Mental health and suicide: how to talk to pupils about a topical issue

Topic Selected: Self-harm and Suicide

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One in four people will experience mental illness at some stage in their lives. Data show that this issue is one that teachers in particular need to be aware of: the UK charity YoungMinds cites Office for National Statistics data saying that one in ten children of school age suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder.

The topic of mental ill health has been a high-profile one this week; Michael Jackson’s teenage daughter Paris has been hospitalised after a suicide attempt, while a few days ago television star and mental health campaigner Stephen Fry went public about a bid to end his own life last year.

While some may feel comfortable covering the issue of mental illness in the classroom, suicide is an extremely emotive and sensitive subject that can be difficult to broach. However, with two prominent stories in the news, it is possible that some students may come to teaching staff with questions about mental illness and suicide.

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