Over 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year in the UK. 1
But we don’t talk about suicide in schoolchildren – and the number of children in this level of emotional distress. Statistics (in England and Wales) were only released for the 10-14 age group for the first time in 2015. Suicides by children under 10 are not included in official statistics.
While there have been moves to prioritise the emotional health and mental wellbeing of children in schools, far fewer people are talking about suicide prevention. The stigma, silence and misconceptions around suicide mean that it is often not part of our normal conversation, and there is insufficient action to make suicide prevention training a priority for all who work with children and young people.
Schoolchildren spend the majority of their waking hours at school: teachers and school staff have the opportunity to recognise the signs that a student might be at risk of suicide and they are best placed to respond effectively. Despite this, many are unsure of what to do or to say. Indeed, many are frightened that they may make things worse by talking to their pupils about suicide. There is currently very little guidance for schools and colleges on how to prevent suicide and support those affected by it.