Suicide at University: Let’s talk

One in four people will suffer from a mental health disorder in their life.


Student commits suicide in student halls of residence.

You thought this was a real headline at first simply because it’s far too believable. Sorry for the shock tactic. But one in four people suffer from mental illness and that calls for an open and frank discussion.

I care about this because that student was nearly me. I am one of the lucky ones. I managed to pull myself back. Others don’t have the second chance and resort to self-harm or ending their life because they feel it’s their only resort. Every life lost is a failure for each one of us, because there’s more we could each do to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Starting uni is tough for everyone. I wasn’t a keen drinker, like many people, but I felt I needed to throw myself into new experiences to enjoy ‘the best years of my life’ (thanks mum). The more people I was surrounded by, the lonelier I began to feel, because it felt as if everything was a competition to outdo others. I felt lost.

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George has set up his own support group “The Mental Youth”

I would cry one day, then seem impossible to calm down the next, as if I was switching between two people. Depression does awful things to you. I’ve suffered from it and anxiety for around 6 years now, and it took a turn when I began to feel left out of things and different. I sat at the front of lectures, stopped drinking and hated myself for it, lying in bed at night listening to people going out and feeling awful that I was so paralysed by anxiety. I couldn’t join them.

One day it all came to a head, and I was ready to do it. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that I could be dead if it wasn’t for my friends who saw through my façade of ‘everything’s fine’ and ‘yeah I’m good’ and asked me how I was really feeling. When I cried on their shoulders I realised that this is how we need to change as a group. We need to start talking, and we need to start listening. There’s no way around it.

112 students took their own lives between 2007 and 2011 at universities. That’s a rise of 50% in 4 years. Considering that one in four people (7000 of the 28,000 currently studying at Cardiff University) will struggle with a mental health disorder in their life and 75% of these will be fully manifested by the age of 18. This is easy to change. Right now, our student support services are overloaded, and there’s a waiting list of 6 weeks for vital counselling.

We can change this together. We need students brave enough to start a conversation to help people who have suffered like me see that they aren’t alone. It feels like the most isolating place in the world but it doesn’t have to be. Alongside this, we need proper guidance to where you can get help, whether from support groups or simple contact cards given to freshers. Silence and pretending it exists doesn’t work. This affects too many people to be ignored.

Remember: universities are communities. We need to act like one and support each other. All of us.