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Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life.

Having suicidal feelings can range from being preoccupied by abstract thoughts about ending your life or feeling that things would be better if you were not here, to thinking about methods of how to end your own life or making clear plans to do so.

If someone is feeling suicidal they might feel confused or scared about these feelings. It is not uncommon for people to have thoughts of suicide and people who experience this should be reassured that they are not alone.

How they might feel

Someone who is having suicidal thoughts and feelings may:

  • Feel hopeless.
  • Have negative thoughts.
  • Feel desperate and feeling like there is no alternative.
  • Feeling like everyone would be better off without them.
  • Feeling useless or unwanted.
  • Self-loathing and low self-esteem.
  • Have urges to self-harm.

Things you might observe

If someone is having suicidal thoughts or feelings you may notice some of the following symptoms or behaviour:

  • They may be tearful and feeling overwhelmed.
  • They may have sleep difficulties and be tired all the time.
  • Changes in weight and appetite – gaining weight or losing weight – eating more or eating less.
  • Neglecting their appearance.
  • They may talk about harming themselves or about feeling they do not want to be here any more.

Faye Walters (Wellbeing and Counselling Manager at Edge Hill) discusses how to talk to students about suicide and offers some advice on the topic.

If a student discloses they are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings:

  • Show empathy and understanding and be non-judgmental.
  • Reassure the student that there is support available and that they are not alone.

Ask the student:

  • If their suicidal thoughts are thoughts and feelings that they intend to act on or have already made plans to act on.
  • If they feel they cannot keep themselves safe.
  • If they have any professionals already involved in their care or supporting them with their wellbeing or mental health.
  • If they have other professionals involved in their care. If so, take the details and pass the information to the Mental Health & Wellbeing Team who will liaise with them to make plans to best support the student.

If the student advises that they are having suicidal thoughts but are not intending to act on these thoughts, contact the Mental Health & Wellbeing Team where the student will be assessed by the team and an appointment will be arranged for them. See ‘How to Refer’ section for contact details.

If a student discloses to you that they have they have taken an overdose of tablets or have ingested a poisonous substance, call 999 immediately. There is no safe amount when it comes to overdoses and other poisonous substances.

  • Don’t promise confidentiality.
  • Don’t let the student leave your teaching room or office if you believe they are at risk.
  • Don’t be judgmental about their thoughts and feelings of ending their life.
  • Don’t try to provide specialist support or advice to the student about suicide – they will need specialist support by skilled and experienced professionals.
  • Don’t try to make the student feel guilty about their suicidal thoughts, such as asking them to think about how their family would feel.
  • Don’t worry that talking about suicide with a student is going to ‘put the idea in their head’.

Refer a student if:

  • You feel you can no longer provide practical advice or support to the student.
  • You feel the student requires more specialist support.
  • You feel the student is at immediate risk to themselves or others.

If you believe the student is an imminent risk to themselves or others, ideally do not let them leave your office or teaching room. Contact the Catalyst Helpdesk on 01695 650800 (extension 7800) and ask them to put you through to the Duty Wellbeing Adviser in Student Services. If it is out of hours, contact Campus Support on extension 01695 584227(extension 4227).

If a student is an immediate risk to themselves, you do not need the consent of the student to contact Student Services.

If a student is not at immediate risk to themselves but requires specialist support, you must obtain their consent to refer them to any of the following services as appropriate:

Team NameSupport OfferedContact Details
Academic RegistryProvide advice on and processing of course changes: transferring course/university, repeating a year, module changes, changing mode of study,

01695 584803
Accommodation teamProvide advice/guidance about accommodation both on and off campus, including hall fee

01695 650800
Campus LifeEnsure that students live in a safe/secure environment on campus. Promote and organise events to help students make the most of their time here and administrate the Disciplinary

01695 657570
Campus SupportProvides 24/7 support and security on campus.01695 584227
CareersProvide advice and support with career planning, job hunting, CV writing, volunteering and maximising work

01695 650800
ChaplaincyProvides both staff and students of all faiths and none with pastoral support. Activities/events focus on friendship, community, support and

01695 650800
Counselling (assessed through the Wellbeing team)Referral always via the Wellbeing team. Also provide group workshops and 1:1 therapeutic support to help students find solutions to issues they are

01695 650988
Disability and InclusionProvide advice and support for students with physical/sensory/mental health, autism spectrum disorders or other additional needs. Also provide advice and guidance on reasonable adjustments and support available. Support for specific learning needs – including dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD can be found via the Library and Learning Services SpLD

01695 657568

01695 650800

Law clinicProvide a free clinic to all staff and students run by Year 3 law students who can advise on legal questions or difficulties such as support with housing contract and employment law for example.Law Clinic
Money AdviceProvide advice on all money-related matters including student funding, budgeting, and the Student Support

01695 650800
Students’ UnionProvides representation for students and promotes and hosts activities/events. Provides advice and support to students on various issues including academic, housing, and

01695 657327
Student Support TeamTargeted support for Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES). Advice and support for all students who are thinking of leaving or at risk of withdrawing or being withdrawn.

01695 650800
Wellbeing teamFirst contact for mental health concerns. Practical advice, support and signposting for any issue impacting on a student’s

01695 650988

Students can self-refer to all the above services and arrange appointments via the Catalyst Helpdesk.

Useful links and information

For more information about suicide, follow the links below.

NHS – help for suicidal thoughts


Student Minds

Young Minds

Self-help resources for students
Staff e-learning resources
Staff training at Edge Hill University
Back to the mental health toolkit homepage