A nationwide survey conducted by YouthSight last month has found that one in 12 students experience suicidal thoughts at least once during their university careers.
Suicide rates for students across the country have been on a steady incline according to data provided by the Office for National Statistics.
Although figures were not available for 2012, the calendar year of 2011 saw 78 male and 34 female students end their lives.
These suicide mortality rates dwarf those recorded for 2007, in which 75 students committed suicide in total. The data consistently shows a significantly higher rate of suicide among young men than women each year.
There have been no recorded student suicides at the University of York for the last two years, but in the academic year of 2009-2010 two students are known to have taken their own lives, with five student deaths recorded in total.
The Nightline survey also found that 75 per cent of students had personally experienced some form of emotional distress while at university. Stress was the most common cause, with 65 per cent of the 1000 students asked admitting that they had suffered from stress during at least one period of their university careers.
43 per cent of the students asked admitted they had experienced anxiety, loneliness and feelings of not being able to cope. A further third of all students questioned had felt depressed or homesick at one time whilst at university.
York has seen a consistent rise in students withdrawing for personal reasons. In four years the number of these undergraduate students has trebled. Last year a total of 15 undergraduates and ten postgraduates were recorded.
Mags Godderidge, Charity Development Manager at Nightline, highlighted in particular the fact that only five per cent of students surveyed agreed with the statement ‘No, I don’t know anyone who has experienced these feelings whilst at university’. She described this statistic in particular as suggestive that these negative feelings and mood states are “prevalent” across the UK student population.
YUSU Welfare Officer, George Offer commented: “The latest Nightline research confirms what we already thought; that a lot of students experience pressure, stress and mental health difficulties whilst at University. This is why YUSU is committed to improving support for students (in particular, supporting the latest moves to increase College welfare support and extending Health Centre Hours), but also to reducing problems in the first place by improving, for instance, the quality of private sector housing and the affordability of studying at University.”
YUSU President Kallum Taylor said: “The sad thing is that these findings are not surprising at all. There’s a massive gap in smart and appropriate provision between a student feeling fine and a student in a crisis and this is something we’re hoping to push over the coming year. Too many students keep their heads down and eventually make themselves worse; probably due to an inconsistency in support services, a lack of information, the stigma attached to ‘needing a chat’ and maybe, denial. It’s time to fill that gap.”
York Nightline provides a confidential listening service every night during term-time and can be reached on 01904 323735 or 3735 from an internal phone. Samaritans provide a similar service, which is available 24/7, on 08457 90 90 90.