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Suicidal students’ use of and attitudes to primary care support services

Stanley, Nicky; Mallon, Sharon; Bell, Jo; Manthorpe, Jill


Nicky Stanley

Sharon Mallon

Jill Manthorpe


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.


Stanley, N., Mallon, S., Bell, J., & Manthorpe, J. (2010). Suicidal students’ use of and attitudes to primary care support services. Primary Health Care Research and Development, 11(04), 315-325.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jun 22, 2010
Publication Date Jun 22, 2010
Electronic ISSN 1477-1128
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 04
Pages 315-325
Keywords Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health; Care Planning
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