By Caroline Kivinurk           8 Sept 2023
In the whirlwind of everyday life, it's all too easy to overlook the quiet struggles that some of our colleagues, friends and family might be grappling with – suicide. Suicide is a complex and sensitive issue that needlessly casts a long shadow over families, and communities.

Suicide stands as a tragic outcome of mental health struggles, feelings of despair, and the inability to grapple with overwhelming emotions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide ranks as a leading cause of death among young adults aged 15-29. We all know that life can be stressful, from academic pressure through to societal pressure and financial challenges, and these challenges can contribute to a sense of hopelessness.

As members of a community, it's important to create an environment marked by empathy, understanding, and support. By discussing suicide and mental health openly, we can erode the stigma, promote early intervention, and potentially save lives.

Raising awareness about suicide is so important for several reasons:
  • Overcoming Stigma: The societal stigma attached to mental health problems can deter individuals from seeking help. By initiating open dialogues about suicide and mental health, we can cultivate an environment where seeking assistance is seen as an act of courage, rather than weakness.
    Did you know, in 2022, five thousand, two hundred and seventy-five people took their own life in England alone.
  • Early Intervention: Awareness helps in identifying warning signs and risk factors for suicide at an early stage, allowing for timely interventions. Friends, family members, and colleagues can play a vital role in recognising these signs and reaching out for support.
    Did you know that the Royal College of Nursing has developed an online course for how to approach people who you think might be having suicidal thoughts? Its free and takes about 30 minutes to complete online.
  • Support Networks: Building a compassionate and empathetic support network within the university community can provide a lifeline for those grappling with suicidal thoughts. The knowledge that they are not alone and that help is available can make a significant difference.
    Did you know that we have networks at Brunel? If not, check them out here!
  • Highlighting Resources: Brunel offers many mental health resources, including the Employee assistance programme, occupational health, and mental health first aiders. counselling services, and helplines. Raising awareness about these resources ensures that individuals in need know where to turn for help.
    Did you know that we have mental health first aiders on campus and wellbeing champions? If not then please reach out – there are people here to talk to who can listen and provide further information. If you want to make contact please email We also have the employee assistance programme which offers free confidential counselling for staff.
  • Life-Saving Conversations: Engaging in open conversations about suicide can facilitate meaningful discussions. When we communicate about this topic with sensitivity, we can offer hope, validation, and potentially save lives.
    Did you know Brunel offer two courses on suicide, Suicide and Self-harm Awareness ( and Suicide First Aid Lite (
Don’t want to speak to people at Brunel? No problem, the below charities are here to help. Some offer texting services for those who would rather not speak.
  1. To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email or visit some branches in person.
  2. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).You can call the CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service.
  3. If you're experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
  4. National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK.Offers a supportive listening service to anyone with thoughts of suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (6pm to midnight every day).
  5. If you would prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, you could text SHOUT to 85258. Shout offers a confidential 24/7 text service providing support if you are in crisis and need immediate help.
  6. The Mix.If you're under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (3pm–midnight every day), request support by email using this form on The Mix website or use their crisis text messenger service.
  7. Papyrus HOPELINEUK. If you're under 35and struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling, you can call Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141 (weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm and bank holidays 2pm–10pm), email or text 07786 209 697.
  8. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
Let's stand together, break the silence, and transform Brunel into a place where every individual feels acknowledged, heard, and valued. Remember, extending a hand and initiating a conversation can make an immeasurable difference.


There are two ways you can tell us what happened