Unis must tell parents if students have break downs after suicides

Universities must tell students’ parents if they have a mental breakdown, Education Secretary warns after 11 suicides in two years on one campus

  • Education Secretary Damian Hinds says staff must do more to reach out 
  • Relatives complain they weren’t informed of struggles due to ‘data protection’  
  • Warning comes after 11 Bristol students believed to have committed suicide 

Universities must contact parents if students suffer a breakdown to help prevent suicide, the Education Secretary has said.

Staff must do more to reach out to families because they are often best-placed to offer support, said Damian Hinds. 

It is especially important when youngsters have ‘left home for the first time’ and may not have their friends and relatives around them, he said.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said universities must contact parents if students suffer breakdowns to prevent suicide [File photo]

His warning comes after 11 students are thought to have killed themselves over the past two years at Bristol University. 

Some relatives complained that welfare services knew their children were struggling but did not tell families for ‘data protection’ reasons.


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Mr Hinds said: ‘Our universities are world leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best in the world for support and pastoral care as well.’

Universities UK, which represents vice chancellors, will today hold talks on developing advice on consent to third parties. 

It will seek to give students the opportunity to sign ‘opt-in’ paperwork to allow their families to be contacted, bypassing data protection laws.

The announcement comes as 11 students are thought to have killed themselves over the past two years at Bristol University [File photo]

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