In Brief

Suicides linked to student exam season

Research indicates suicides among young adults peak during exam season, leading to calls for student counselling and early intervention

A national study into suicide trends involving young people has found a correlation between the deaths and exam season.

While the causes of suicide are often complex, exams can sometimes be the final straw that lead to teens and young adults under age 25 taking their own lives, The Guardian reports citing a study by Manchester University researchers

Researchers collected information on 922 suicides by people aged under 25 in England and Wales during 2014 and 2015 and found the number of suicides at each age rose steadily in the late teens and early 20s. Most who died were male (76%), the study says.

"Academic pressures and bullying were more common before suicide in under 20s, while workplace, housing and financial problems occurred more often in 20-24 year olds," the reports says.

Bereavement was common in both age groups - 25% of under 20s and 28% of 20-24 year olds - equivalent to about 125 deaths per year.

Of particular interest, The Guardian reports, is that on average, 96 people under age 25 committed suicide in April and May in England and Wales. Another 88 – the next highest figure – did so in September, the beginning of the academic year.

Although the report emphasises that suicide is usually caused by a combination of factors, academic pressures - especially related to exams - was identified as a common theme. It was prevalent in 43 per cent of suicides by those under 20, the researchers found.

"Analysis of evidence heard at inquests shows that 63 (43%) of the 145 suicides among those aged under 20 in 2014-15 were experiencing academic pressures of different sorts before their death. Almost one in three – 46 (32%) – had exams at the time, or coming up soon, or were waiting for exam results," the Guardian reports.

Sarah Brennan, the chief executive of Young Minds, urged ministers to ensure that "students' wellbeing is given as much priority as their academic performance". Others called for an increase in funding to support early intervention.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 

Infographic by Manchester University. 

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