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During the 14 years between the beginning of academic year 1976-7 and the end of academic year 1989-90, 216 Oxford University students (119 females and 97 males) were referred to the general hospital in Oxford because of suicide attempts (254 in all). The rate of attempted suicide during university term-time (106/100,000) was lower than in other young people of similar age in Oxford City (164/100,000). The difference was particularly marked in females (178/100,000 v. 269/100,000). The lower rate in the students may in part reflect their generally higher socio-economic status. Very few of the attempts by the students appeared to be failed suicides. The most frequent problems faced by the students at the time of their attempts were interpersonal, especially difficulties regarding partners, followed by academic problems. The latter were usually problems with ongoing course work rather than with the Finals examinations. Approximately a quarter of the students had psychiatric problems, with personality disorders and depression being most common. At least 30% had a history of previous attempts. Suggestions are made concerning measures for improving the management and prevention of attempted suicide by students.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





179 - 188


Adolescent, Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Educational Status, England, Female, Humans, Incidence, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Mental Disorders, Referral and Consultation, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Socioeconomic Factors, Students, Suicide, Attempted