New suicide prevention guide for schools

By agency reporter
September 10, 2017

In the UK over 200 schoolchildren take their own lives every year. National charity PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide) has produced a new suicide prevention guide for teachers and school staff. 

Ged Flynn, PAPYRUS chief executive said, “We don’t talk about suicide in schoolchildren and there is a lack of awareness of the number of children who are desperate for help. Teachers and school staff are well placed to recognise the signs that a student might be at risk of suicide and are in a position to respond effectively, but there is currently very little guidance for schools and colleges. That must change if we are to reduce the number of suicides by schoolchildren.”

A YouGov survey commissioned by the charity reveals that, although one in ten teaching professionals (11 per cent) say a student shares suicidal thoughts with them once a term or more, only half (53 per cent) said they would feel confident that they could support a student who had shared those thoughts with them.

Head and deputy head teachers felt more confident than day-to-day classroom teachers who, PAPYRUS believes, are more likely to be in a position to build up trust with the children and observe changes in behaviour.

A third of respondents (34 per cent) said that being worried about making the situation worse would prevent them from supporting a suicidal student themselves. Other barriers noted by teachers included lack of training (47 per cent); not knowing the right things to say (22 per cent); lack of school policy or procedure (15 per cent); and not having permission (13 per cent). 

Concerns cited by respondents included: "school discourages personal interactions"; "there are problems getting senior teachers to take notice"; "I would feel responsible under safeguarding and possibly left to carry the can"; "I don’t have the time to spend with the student"; "I would want to help but don’t consider myself qualified".

In response the charity is launching a year-long campaign to 'Save The #ClassOf2018' with a new guide for teachers and school staff - Building suicide-safer schools and colleges.

This new resource includes guidance on developing a suicide prevention policy; language around suicide; intervention, identifying if a child is suicidal, postvention care and support, and how to communicate to other schoolchildren about a suicide. 

Building suicide-safer schools and colleges can be downloaded free here

If you need to talk about how you are feeling, or are concerned about somebody else, help and support is available.

HOPELineUK 0800 068 41 41 is a specialist telephone service staffed by trained professionals. They can give non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to children, teenagers and young people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling. They can also help anyone who is concerned about a young person. Alternatively, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.  


* PAPYRUS https://www.papyrus-uk.org/


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