Empty classroom with purple chairs and white desks. There is a window at the back of the room.

Should Suicide Awareness be Compulsory?

The leading cause of death in males and females aged 5 to 34 years is intentional self-harm. This is according to ONS data* on the UK population. That is a shocking fact and yet, suicide and self-harming are subjects not widely discussed in schools, colleges, universities or workplaces. Three Dads are hoping to change this.

Breaking the Silence

The silence surrounding suicide and self-harm means that individuals experiencing self-deprecating thoughts feel completely alone. They fear sharing what’s on their mind and lack the strategies that can help them find alternative paths. Three Dads are on a mission to break the silence. They want suicide prevention to be a compulsory element in the school curriculum.

“One of the things that really became clear after meeting so many bereaved parents, was our young people aren’t really equipped with the life skills to keep them safe in later life.”

– Mike Palmer

Three Dads have already raised over £1 million for the Suicide Prevention charity, Papyrus. They achieved this by completing two treks across the UK. They are not long-standing friends, but three men brought together by the tragedy of each losing a young daughter to suicide.

Their fundraising achievements have far exceeded their expectations, yet they wanted to do more. In September 2022, they launched a petition with the hope of gaining sufficient signatures for the issue to be debated in Parliament. They believe that safe and age-appropriate lessons would help young people to have the tools necessary to deal with suicidal feelings. It would also raise awareness of support organisations, like Papyrus, that are there in times of need.

The petition now has over 157,000 signatures and a date has been set for the Parliamentary debate; 13 March. It is possible to add your signature to the petition and watch the debate by following this link:


Reservations About Increasing Suicide Awareness in Schools

The arguments against including suicide awareness in the school curriculum might include the fear that this will put ideas into students’ heads. Do discussions increase suicidal tendencies or idealise self-harm? A 2014 study* revealed the opposite to be true; education on the subject reduced suicide rates.

There may be teachers or parents who oppose the idea on religious or moral grounds. And yet, their children may be regularly exposed to images of self-harm and suicide on social media. Seeing this is more likely to cause distress, as it isn’t filtered and comes without supporting information. As such, it is harder to process and understand.

Finally, teachers may feel that they lack the resources to deliver suicide awareness education. As a sensitive subject, they must be provided with quality training. They may also require time and supervisory support to address comments, issues and emotions that arise in these lessons.

Workplace Awareness of Suicide Prevention

We will be following the outcome of this Parliamentary debate. It is our opinion that open discussion and clear access to support are effective. The taboo of suicidal conversations has to be broken. Putting the foundations in place at school is one step, however, we strongly believe that this should continue through further and higher education and into the workplace.

Our mission is to encourage all businesses to adopt a suicide awareness policy. We invite you to get involved by downloading, customising and implementing the Suicide Awareness Policy Template that you can access, for free, on our website. This can help everyone in your organisation to be aware of how to respond if a colleague or customer raises an intention to end their life.

At no point in their education or career should people feel that they can’t speak up, that there are no other options and that no one cares. It is time for change.

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregistrationsummarytables/2021# (Section 6, Table 2)

** https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24998511/


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