Cambridge University launches campaign to support students after five suspected suicides in 2022

Edward Mallen Cambridge 
Credit: Mallen family
Edward Mallen took his own life in 2015 as he prepared to begin university. His father has welcomed the new campaign. Credit: Family photo

The father of a teenager who took his own life has welcomed a new campaign to support students' mental health after the death of five Cambridge University students this year.

Since the start of 2022, the university has confirmed one student's death was suicide and four others suspected suicides.

The university has now launched its Reach Out campaign which it hopes will direct students to the right mental health support, following a review of its services.

It means an extra £4.7m will be spent over the next three years which will go towards reducing the time students have to wait to access services.

Steve Mallen's son Edward, 18, was due to start a geography course at the university in 2015 when he took his own life after struggling with his mental health.

Mr Mallen told ITV News the new campaign is a step in the right direction but a cultural shift was needed to end the stigma surrounding suicide.

"Clearly, universities and all educational establishments have a duty of care to provide a safe and nurturing and supportive environment for those people that are attending their institutions and so on," he said.

The university's new Reach Out campaign aims to get through to students who may be struggling. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"The fact of the matter is that there are many people in the education system and entering the university system that are already experiencing challenges and already experiencing difficulties.

"And all members of a university higher education establishment need to be aware that mental illness is an issue with young people," said Mr Mallen.

Three Cambridge students died in May 2022, and another student died in June. A second-year history student died in March 2022. His inquest heard he was "on course to finish as one of the most accomplished students in his year".

The university said the review came more than a year ago "at a time of rising demand for mental health services" around the institution.

It said it was also recruiting new wellbeing advisers who would meet regularly, and a new partnership would be established with the NHS.

Natalie Acton, head of student support at the university, said: “The wellbeing of our students is a high priority for us at Cambridge, and we are committed to ensuring our students get the support they need when they need it."

The new campaign will see posters and flyers distributed around the university and on social media.

Mr Mallen said he welcomed the new support being provided by the university and wanted to continue to raise awareness around suicide.

"One of the things that Edward's story reminds us of is that mental health is a society-wide issue," he said.

"No matter how good one's background is, no matter how you feel and how comfortable one's upbringing is, mental health and mental illness is something that can impact upon anybody, even those that are the most successful," he said.

Previously Cambridge University's Student Union had called on the university and colleges to do more saying "university leaders must urgently review the Suicide Safer Strategy".

Daisy Thomas, welfare and community officer at Cambridge’s Students’ Union, said: “Knowing that support is available – whatever you are facing – is really vital for students.

"We need to increase awareness of what is available to help, whatever the challenge you are facing.

"And we need to keep on improving those services to make sure students get the support they deserve.”

Mental health helplines


  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

  • Papyrus offers support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am and midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to

  • Mind also offers mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 or text them on 86463. There is also lots of information available on their website.