Female student suicides in England & Wales rise for third consecutive year

Female student suicides in England & Wales rose for a third consecutive year in 2015, according to new figures released by the Office of National Statistics. The release follows a BBC article indicating that up to a third of female students reported having a mental health problem.

In 2015, 41 female students died by suicide, up from 33 in 2014, which was a rise of over 20%. This was the third consecutive year of rising female student suicide rates, and the highest in at least 10 years.

E&W female to maleBetween 2012 and 2015, female suicides in England & Wales increased from 22 per year to 41 per year. All of the 2015 deaths were individuals usually residing in England and Wales. Male student suicides were the same in 2012 and 2015, at 87 per year, reflecting a consistently higher suicide rate amongst males in the general population compared to females.

Between the 2011/2012 and 2014/2015 academic years, the number of full-time UK female students decreased approximately 0.6% according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Female Suicide

The previous highest suicide rate for female students was in 2010, a year in which the number of graduates in employment, and in high skilled jobs, decreased due to the fallout from the economic recession.

As of 2015, the proportion of graduates in high skilled jobs was 5% lower than in 2006. In 2015, female graduates also experienced lower rates of high skilled employment than male graduates, and faced an £8000 gender pay gap compared to males.


Note: This post was updated to include the percentage change in female full-time students during the period. The graph uses student numbers based on the academic year ending in the year in question, since the majority of the academic year occurs in that calendar year – ie. ’2012′ in the graph refers to the 2011/2012 academic year.

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UK Student Suicides Highest in At Least 10 Years

The number of UK university students taking their own lives in 2014 reached the highest level in at least 10 years, new data released by regional statistics agencies reveals.

In 2014, 166 students across the UK died by suicide, up from 128 in 2013. Both male and female suicides increased, with the rate continuing to be more than twice as high for male students as for female.

UK suicides

The majority of student deaths by suicide were in England & Wales, however Northern Ireland showed the highest rate of student suicide per 100,000 students for 2014, with a steady increase from 4 suicides in 2009 to 11 suicides in 2014.

An analysis by Dr. Raymond Kwok from the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Hong Kong University, indicated that the UK student suicide rate per 100,000 was 9.79 for 2014, up from 7.59 in 2013 (with statistical significance at p-value=0.02), based on figures provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The suicide rate amongst the general UK population was 10.8 in 2014.

suicide rate

As with the general population, student suicides rose during the 2008 recession, before sloping off after 2010. The rise of student suicides in 2014, in contrast to a decrease in suicide in the general population[i], may reflect the impact of rising student tuition fees and graduate under-employment.

The 2014 student suicide data was published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and National Records of Scotland (NRS) following a Freedom of Information request by Ed Pinkney, a student mental health campaigner and project officer at the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Hong Kong University.

[i] Although reports indicate that the number of suicides in the general population in England & Wales rose to a new high in 2015.

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