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A new series of recommendations have been published aimed at universities around the UK to help them be more proactive in preventing student suicides.

Brought out by Universities UK, in collaboration with PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, the new guide details how and when these establishments should involve family members, trusted others and carers when serious concerns are raised about an individual’s safety or mental health.

This is the first time that a consistent practice has been put forward for the sector, placing students at the heart of decisions regarding their care and safety.

The intention is also to give universities more confidence about getting in touch with trusted contacts, as well as setting out properly governed processes for the sharing of information while giving staff more clarity about their roles and responsibilities.

Recommendations include making it mandatory for students to provide details of trusted contacts at registration, having check-ins at the start of the academic year and ensuring that universities review suicide prevention policies and plans to keep students safe.

Steve West, president of Universities UK, said: “Universities are committed to putting students who may be in difficulty at the centre of decisions about their care – including who they want involved. But this commitment must be balanced with a duty to protect a student when there are serious concerns about their safety and welfare.

“Universities can help save lives when they adopt a proactive response to suicide prevention, and an important part of that proactive response is making proportionate, risk-based decisions around involving trusted contacts.”

Office for National Statistics figures, published in May, show that the suicide rate for students in higher education in England and Wales in the academic year ending in 2020 was three deaths per 100,000 students, which is the lowest it has been in four years.

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