Dear University of Abertay Dundee,
Please provide me with information on the following:
1. For each of the past five academic years (2004-05 to 2008-09), how many University of Abertay Dundee students have committed suicide while a student at the university?
2. Please provide a breakdown by gender for each year.
3. What suicide-prevention strategies does the University currently have in place?
4. How many students have approached the university's student support services (for each of the past five academic years 2004-05 to 2008-09) for support to deal with each of the following issues:
4.2 Eating disorders
4.3 Stress, anxiety or depression
4.4 Drug or alcohol issues
4.5 Mental health issues not included in categories 4.1-4.4?
Please provide a breakdown by gender for each category for each year.
Thank you for your help.
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University of Abertay Dundee, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 *
Thank you for your information request 18 April 2010 concerning incidents
of suicide amongst the University*s student population and details of the
numbers of students who have sought assistance from the University for a
range of conditions (as described in your enquiry), along with details of
suicide prevention strategies.
The University*s response confirms where information:
§ Is held and has been released;
§ Requested of it is not held; and
§ Requested of it is held and has not been released, and the
exemption available under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
(FOISA) that has been applied on this occasion to withhold the information
The University*s response
The University records incidents of student death as part of the student
record, but does not record any information pertaining to cause of death.
Subsequently, the University is unable to provide you with information
with regard to the number of student suicides covering the period
specified in your enquiry.
It may be the case that this information is available in the public domain
via the Procurator Fiscal, Caledonian House, Greenmarket, Dundee DD1 4QA,
or the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, K floor, Argyle House, Lady
Lawson Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9DR
For the reasons provided above, I can confirm that the University does not
hold any information on student suicides.
Suicide prevention strategy
The Head of Student Services has confirmed that the University does not
have a suicide prevention strategy per se. However, the University does
have a number of policies and procedures in place to support the mental
wellbeing and health & safety of students. Copies of relevant documents
concerning student mental wellbeing have been provided as part of the
University*s response. With reference to the specific question (i.e. does
the University have a suicide prevention strategy) I can confirm that no
information is held.
Students who have approached the University with mental health issues
The University has provided you with copies of the Student Services annual
report for the session 2008/9. This report provides you with the
statistical information you have requested for the periods described.
However, the University has not provided you with any statistical
breakdown on the numbers of students who have sought help for a mental
health condition where the numbers involved in any given period, for a
named condition are less than 5. In this instance the University has
applied the exemption available under section 38(1)(b) FOISA i.e. personal
Information withheld: (sensitive) personal information
For the University to successful withhold personal information via the
FOISA exemption cited it must demonstrate that the information:
§ Is personal data as per the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA); and
§ Release of the personal data would be unlawful i.e. to do so
would breach one of the data protection principles.
The University is satisfied that the information withheld is personal data
§ Although the information withheld is statistical * there are
instances where the release of statistical data could lead to the
identification of an individual (see paragraph 38 Office of the Scottish
Information Commissioner, Decision 014/2009 Dunbritton Housing
Association, Craigdale Housing Association and Blochairn Housing
Co-operative and the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police). This Decision
assessed the ability to identify an individual from statistical data,
where the population sample was small and from other information which a
determined person could source;
§ The University on-campus student population is relatively small
circa 3,600 students. To report for example that 2 students sought help in
2008/9 for eating disorders introduces a risk that those persons could be
identified * certainly as the numbers fall to say 1 the risk of
identification increases substantially;
§ Thus where the numbers of students who have sought help for a
mental health condition, for a specified condition in any given year is
less than 5 the University believes that the persons concerned could be
Here the University has concluded that this statistical data withheld is
personal data (in terms of the DPA) as the information relates to an
individual who can be identified from that data. Furthermore, this
information by its very nature falls within the definition of sensitive
personal data as per section 2(e) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)
i.e. is connected with a physical or mental health condition.
Sensitive personal data requires a high level of protection. For release
of this information to be lawful, the University must find a valid
condition under Schedule 3 of the DPA. The only condition available of
relevance here is that of the explicit consent of each individual has been
provided to allow release of the information requested. As no consent to
release of the information described is available * to do so would be
unlawful, breaching the first data protection principle - thus validating
the University*s application of the exemption available under s38(1)(b)
FOISA. As this exemption is absolute, no further consideration of the
public interest test is required.
Information not held
The University is required by s.17 FOISA to confirm in writing where
information requested of it is not held. I would consider that the
University*s response provides an information not held notice with respect
to information requested on student suicides and the availability of a
suicide prevention strategy.
Your right to seek a review of how your information request was managed
If you are not satisfied with our response or our reasoning set-out above,
you have forty working days in which to request a review of our decision.
Any request should be put in writing and should be sent to Professor
Nicholas Terry, University of Abertay Dundee, at the address provided
below. The request should:
(a) detail your request for a review of our decision to be undertaken;
(b) describe the nature of your original request; and
(c) explain the reasons why you are dissatisfied with our response.
Professor N Terry
Vice-Principal and Deputy-Vice Chancellor
University of Abertay Dundee
Tel (01382) 308016
E-mail [email address]
If you remain dissatisfied with how your request for information has been
dealt with, you also have the right to apply to the Scottish Information
Commissioner for a decision as to whether we have handled your request
Information relating to your right to seek review is available from the
Scottish Information Commissioner's web page at:
http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/faqs.... or by contacting the
Scottish Information Commissioner's Office at the following address:
Scottish Information Commissioner,
Doubledykes Road, St Andrews,
Fife KY16 9DS
Telephone: 01334 464610
Fax: 01334 464611
E-mail: [email address]
This concludes the University*s response.
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