There’s one of these little scandalettes about the suicide rate at the University of the West of England. A student representative wanted to know what it was, the uni didn’t have the numbers, then it did and, well, that’s that really. Except we’re now into the protestations of how appalling this suicide rate is. Which it isn’t.
Yes, obviously, each and every suicide is a tragedy both for the person self-driven to it and also for those they leave behind. Yet it’s also something which does happen and it happens at a certain rate through society. More male than female, there’s an age profile to it as well. And yet the UWE rate doesn’t look out of order at all:
A university has been accused of covering up the scale of suicides among its students after a leaked report revealed that 14 have killed themselves in the past eight years. The University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol told students it did not hold figures for the number of suicides, but a confidential report has shown that the information was held in the university’s records.
Well, yes and no. The suicide rate for the population is some 10 per 100,000 per year. UWE has some 30,000, a shade under, students at any one time. 8 years of that, we’d be expecting some 24 suicides. There were 14. That’s somewhere between normal statistical variation and a little low.
Yes, there’s that age profile to deal with, the gender thing for suicide rates are markedly lower for women and all that. But the end result here does seem to be that while we’d prefer the UWE suicide rate to be zero it is in fact, by the standards of these things, low.