If you are an Academic Tutor or work in a student-facing role, there may be times when you are faced with a student in crisis who is considering taking their own life. It is vital that you are able to spot the warning signs and follow the protocol to help prevent any harm to the student, or others.
- Talking about suicide
- Preoccupation with death
- No hope for the future
- Withdrawing from others
- Destructive behaviour
- Seeking out lethal means (sourcing pills, knives or other weapons)
- Suicide planning (saying goodbye to people, writing letters to family and friends, arranging finances)
If you suspect that a student is having suicidal thoughts, or they disclose that they are, you should:
Speak up – express your concern to the student and directly ask if they are having thoughts about suicide.
Take action – if they are thinking of suicide you must share this information. Do not keep this confidential, even if the student asks you to.
Your role is to help them to get the professional clinical support that they need, following the protocol below.
What to do
In an emergency - student is about to endanger their own life
- Call 999 as soon as possible
- Call Security on 0118 378 6300
- Stay with the student and if possible inform another member of staff nearby.
Urgent concern – student is experiencing suicidal thoughts and has developed a plan
- Call the Counselling and Wellbeing duty telephone on 0118 378 6233 (staffed Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm) for a clinical judgement of the risk and instruction on what to do next
- If out of hours (Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm), contact Security on 0118 378 6300 and the NHS Mental Health Crisis Team (Berkshire) on 0300 365 0300/ 0300 365 9999 to make them aware of the situation
- Stay with the student and await further instruction from the team you have contacted. If possible inform another member of staff nearby
- You can also contact Papyrus on 0800 068 4141 (available 10:00–22:00 weekdays, 14:00-22:00 weekends/bank holidays) for suicide prevention advice or to speak to the student directly over the phone.
Serious concern – student discloses suicidal thoughts or exhibits some warning signs, but there is no evidence of a plan
- Call Counselling and Wellbeing reception on 0118 378 4216 for advice or ask the student for their GP details so you can call to make an urgent appointment on their behalf
- If out of hours (Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm), call Samaritans on 116 123 to instruct you or to speak to the student directly
- Inform the Student Welfare team as soon as possible by emailing email@example.com with the subject line ‘Suicide concern’, or calling Student Services reception on 0118 378 5555 to speak to a member of the team. The Student Welfare team will follow up with the student straight away during office hours.
Support for staff
We recognise that the death of a student can be deeply distressing for staff. Everyone has a different way of coping, and it’s important to seek support when you need it.
Talking to someone – whether family, friends, colleagues or a professional – is one of the best ways to come to terms with loss. You should also speak to your line manager if you are concerned about how this may be affecting your work so that adjustments can be put in place if needed.
Support is also available outside of the University. Support after Suicide is an organisation which provides advice, self-help resources and links to local support networks for anyone affected by suicide.