Suicide deaths in university students in a UK city 2010-2018: case series

Joanna C. McLaughlin, David J Gunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

286 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
There are longstanding concerns over the mental health and suicide risk of university students in the UK and internationally.

Aims
Identify risk factors for suicide amongst students attending universities in a UK city.

Method
Suicide deaths between January 2010 and July 2018 were identified from university records. An audit tool was used to collate data from university records and coroners’ inquest files.

Results
37 student deaths were identified. Only 10.8% of the students had disclosed a mental health issue at university entry. There was strong statistical evidence that students that died by suicide were more likely to have been male, experiencing academic difficulties (repeated years, changing course and suspension of studies were all associated with 5-10 fold increased risk) and in need of financial support than other students.

Limitations
The coroners’ records were only available for around half of the deaths. Healthcare records were not available.

Conclusion
Markers of academic and financial difficulty should be considered as flags to identify students at heightened risk. Improved disclosure of mental health issues at university registration could facilitate targeted support for vulnerable students.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCrisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
Early online date29 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • suicide
  • university
  • college
  • student
  • risk factors

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