Suicidal feelings and thoughts

A small number of children experiencing low mood or depression will feel that life is no longer worth living.

These feelings will usually have built up incrementally over time or in reaction to specific events.

Many things can prompt suicidal feelings and thoughts.  These can include children who:

  • are living with mental illness
  • are experiencing abuse
  • are being bullied and being a bully (with a personal history of victimisation)
  • are experiencing complex grief
  • have very low self-worth
  • live with complex family issues (such as parental disputes, neglect, hostile and chaotic home environments)

What schools can do

By helping children routinely develop social and emotional skills and resilience and through identifying children with low mood and getting them help early, schools can help prevent escalating suicidal thoughts.  

Suicidal thoughts and feelings should always be taken extremely seriously. 

  • All schools have a duty to safeguard children and should have safeguarding procedures in place to manage situations where children articulate such thoughts and feelings and are at extreme risk.
  • Schools also have a duty to ensure that staff are fully up-to-date with these procedures.
  • Responses to suicidal feelings should always involve a holistic approach. Whilst being highly sensitive to confidentiality, it should seek to engage key people in the child’s life (e.g. parents, carers, school staff and professionals). 

Concerned about a child?

If you are worried that a child is at risk involve your designated safeguarding lead as a matter of priority who will contact the parents/carers and other services as necessary. If the child is at immediate risk, ensure that they are taken to their GP or A&E as a matter of urgency, depending on the severity of the concern.

Find out more

Related resources

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MindEd: risky behaviour

MindEd is a free educational resource on children and young people's mental health for all adults.

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Hopeline UK

Hopeline UK

Free helpline for children and young people experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings.

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Childline: depression and feeling sad

Childline has a range of practical resources for children and young people to help them manage...

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Help during emotional times

Help during emotional times

Resources for children to keep themselves safe, information about where to get help and techniques...

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