Suicidal students' use of and attitudes to primary care prevention services

Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625, Mallon, Sharon, Bell, Jo and Manthorpe, Jill (2010) Suicidal students' use of and attitudes to primary care prevention services. Primary Health Care Research and Development, 11 (4). pp. 315-325. ISSN 1463-4236

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Aim The aims of this study were to improve responses to students in distress and who are feeling suicidal, to help practitioners to increase their responsiveness to those at high risk of suicide and to develop effective responses to those affected by their deaths. The study sought to build a detailed picture of students’ patterns of service use.

Background National suicide prevention strategies emphasise that suicide prevention requires the collaboration of a wide range of organisations. Among these, primary care services play a key role in relation to suicide prevention for young people in crisis.

Methods This study, undertaken between 2004 and 2007, focused on 20 case studies of student suicide that took place in the United Kingdom between May 2000 and June 2005. It adopted a psychological autopsy approach to learn from a wide range of informants, including parents, friends, university staff and the records of coroners or procurator fiscals. Twenty families gave permission for their son’s or daughter’s death to be included in the study and agreed to participate in the study. Informants were interviewed in person and the data were analysed thematically. Analysis of the case study data suggested that in a number of cases students had failed to engage with services sufficiently early or in sufficient depth. Primary care practitioners need to be proactive in communicating concerns about vulnerable students to student support services. At local levels, collaboration between student support and National Health Service practitioners varied considerably and channels of communication need to be developed.

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