First ever suicide awareness and reduction awards launched

In advance of World Mental Health Day, national education services charity NCFE has developed suicide awareness and reduction qualifications, in a bid to educate people and help tackle the stigma around mental health.

Developed in collaboration with suicide survivors, the Ofqual-regulated Level 2 and Level 3 Awards are the first of their kind to be solely targeted at this sensitive and life-saving subject.

Recently made eligible for funding by the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA), the qualifications have been carefully designed to de-stigmatise talking about mental health issues and suicide and provide learners with the skills to face these conversations with confidence and positivity. Throughout the course content, learners will consider suicide risk and level of intent, and learn how to support individuals at risk and signpost them to professional services where appropriate.

The Level 2 qualification is available for learners aged 16+, including adult learners, in any sector, whilst the Level 3 qualification is designed for learners who are already in, or want to progress into, a career on the frontline including in key worker roles, as well as educators, employers and those in HR or similar roles. Resources for the Level 2 award are available on an interactive learning and assessment platform, meaning the qualification can be delivered remotely or in a classroom environment.

NCFE, has developed the qualifications in partnership with not-for-profit training consultancy, Big Dog Little Dog (BDLD), online training content creator, LearnBox, and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

As the UK heads into the winter months in the midst of a second spike of Coronavirus, NCFE has spoken out about their concerns that a second full-scale lockdown could have a potentially devastating effect on the public’s mental health and wellbeing. It is encouraging employers and individuals this World Mental Health Day to consider the steps that they can take to ensure the wellbeing of employees, friends and family during this challenging time as part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

David Gallagher, Chief Executive at NCFE said:

“Last year, there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales. That’s not just 5,691 lives lost, it’s thousands of bereaved families and countless numbers of friends, colleagues and acquaintances left devastated.

“Sadly, it is our young people who are among those most at risk of taking their own lives, with 80% of 16-24-year olds stating that their mental health had been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic at the time of the first lockdown. 

“While there is no cure-all approach to mental health challenges, these qualifications will teach people how to offer the right support and recognise when someone might need help. Through education and encouraging people to talk about how they are feeling, real progress can be made.”

Kevin Moore, Co-Founder of BDLD said:

“We bandy around the word “pandemic” far too easily, but look at the maths behind David’s words. Research into the Ripple Effect consistently suggests that, for every life lost, over 100 other people are affected. If the year ahead “only” saw the suicide rates remain the same, then that’s more than half a million people affected, with over 100,000 left devastated by it. Anything we can do to bring that number down has to be a worthwhile cause.

“Some people are reluctant to talk about the subject of suicide, but if we continue to duck out of the conversation, that number will not change for the better.”

Lucy Dunleavy, CEO and Founder at LearnBox, commented:

Suicide is preventable but people need to know how they can help others in order to prevent it. Collectively we have made it our mission to educate as many people as possible in suicide awareness and prevention and right now, as we are in the midst of a Mental Health pandemic, it is imperative we push our message as far and wide as possible.”

Jane Hickie, Chief Operating Officer at AELP, commented:

“The latest set of Covid-related restrictions undoubtedly raises a concern that more apprentices and learners of all ages will need support for their mental wellbeing.  Despite the huge growth in online learning since the pandemic arrived, having restricted access to the workplace is proving to be a major challenge in terms of learners completing training programmes and progression.  It can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety and this is why AELP believes that the creation of the new qualifications in suicide awareness and prevention is so important.  We have no hesitation in recommending these qualifications to our members who want to safeguard the mental health of their learners.”     


To find out more about the qualifications, visit