Seats of silence: Powerful images show rate of suicide among university students

Seats of silence: Raising awareness on University Mental Health Day, The Student Room lay out 95 graduation gowns for every university student lost to suicide in the space of one year
by Hayley Pearce | 7 Mar 2019

TSR and PAPYRUS highlight issue of HE student suicide

To mark University Mental Health Day, TSR and national young suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS have released a photo series to raise awareness of suicide rates among university students.

The images show gowns and mortarboards on lined up chairs, as if in a graduation ceremony, alongside a professor and graduates.

There are 95 gowns in total, equating to one per higher education student who took their own life in the 12 months ending July 2017, according to the most recent ONS figures for the minimum number of deaths by suicide.

The partnership between TSR and PAPYRUS aims to draw attention to the severity of mental health issues amongst UK university students and encourage more conversation to help reduce the stigma that surrounds it. 

Encouraging conversation

Representatives from PAPYRUS and TSR will be supporting students and contributing to a Q&A panel on site, where students can ask questions surrounding mental health, university support and how to manage their own health at university.

Anyone can read and take part by going to TSR’s Uni Mental Health Day forum.

“We are working with The Student Room to encourage conversation in the safe space of their community," said Kelly Thorpe, head of helpline services at PAPYRUS.

"Greater awareness of the help and support available to students, such as PAPYRUS helpline services, can only encourage a suicide-safer university environment."

Safe space

TSR’s mental health forums are a place for members to share problems, ask for advice and provide support to others.

Mhairi Underwood, head of community at TSR, said: “In the past twelve months alone, discussions in our Mental Health forum have been viewed 1.4 million times, which is an increase of 23% from the year before.

"From dealing with anxiety around exams and loneliness, to helping friends with thoughts of suicide, students need support in overcoming mental health challenges. We want to encourage two-way conversations and provide young people with a safe space where they feel able to share their concerns, however big or small.”

If you, or a young person you know, would like confidential suicide prevention advice contact Papyrus on 0800 068 4141 or [email protected].

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