Olly’s Future calls for all medical students to have suicide prevention training for World Mental Health Day – October 10th 2022

Olly’s Future is calling on Therese Coffey (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom), and the Medical Schools Council (representing 41 UK medical schools) to provide training in suicide prevention skills and self-compassion techniques as part of the core curriculum. 

The charity currently delivers its unique initiative – Dr SAMS (Suicide Awareness in Medical Students) – as part of the core curriculum at Brighton and Sussex, University of Exeter, Kent and Medway, and UCL as part of their core curriculum. For the past three years it has received funding for this from the BMA. However, to reach all medical schools across the country, government backing is being sought. 

(Image – The charity’s Steering Group is made up of family and very close friends of Olly Hare.)

Ann Feloy, Chair of Olly’s Future, founded the young suicide prevention charity in memory of her son Oliver, who died by suicide aged 22 years, in 2017. Many of Olly’s friends are involved in the day-to-work of the charity.

She said:

I am very proud of the fact that so far 718 medical students have received vital training in suicide prevention skills and self-compassion techniques, and we do this as part of my beloved son’s legacy. Every year we are asked to run Dr SAMS (Suicide Awareness in Medical Students) at more and more medical schools. However, this piecemeal approach is not sufficient

(Image – Olly Hare gap year.) 

We have opened the discussion with Therese Coffey MP (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and Deputy Prime Minister), and senior decision-makers in 41 medical schools, the General Medical Council, the BMA, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Royal College of Nursing – and we urge those with a say in the content of medical student curriculums to consider this, and talk to us.

Ann Feloy, Chair of Olly’s Future

Evidence shows that there is a higher risk of depression and suicide ideation among medical students than among the general population www.bmj.com/content/357/sbmj.j1460 

(Image – Olly Hare singing.)   

We need to equip the GPs of tomorrow with the skills to help their future patients, as well as their colleagues and themselves, when they are under stress.

Emma Baars, CEO of Olly’s Future


Find out more about Olly’s Future and the Dr SAMS initiative

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(a) Brighton and Sussex Medical School

1. Professor Juliet Wright, Director of Undergraduate Teaching and
Learning at the University of Brighton Medical School: “Students have benefited
enormously from the programme and the very real and practical support this gives
them is its strength – students leave with a confidence to take the next steps should
they need to, and that is such a very valuable skill to have given them”. (2021)

2.  Abstract: Rachel Tresman – Brighton and Sussex Medical School. (2021)

‘A lot was achieved in a short time’; lessons learnt from suicide prevention training in medical students.

* Introduction: Prevalence of suicidal ideation is  increased in medical students compared with the general population 1,2. This programme evaluation explores the impact of suicide prevention training on medical students. 

Methods: Brighton and Sussex Medical School partnered with Olly’s future, a suicide awareness charity, to provide a voluntary 90-minute online course; ‘Talking about suicide – Ten Tools’3. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected on feedback questionnaires. Thematic analysis with a critical realist, inductive approach was utilised for qualitative analysis. Quantitative data was collected as Likert scales of confidence ratings on the course learning outcomes pre- and post-intervention.

Results: 347 students took part and 210 (60%) provided feedback and consent for data analysis. Results demonstrated improved confidence in all learning outcomes; 1) Spotting the signs of someone struggling, 2) Starting the conversation, 3) Asking someone if they are thinking of suicide, 4) Listening to someone without trying to fix their problems, 5) Connecting them with someone who can help more. Qualitative analysis revealed five themes; 1)The environment and culture of the sessions are important, 2) A formal structure to approach the conversation was empowering 3) Training provided a feeling of safety 4) Students were inspired to engage in the wider topic of mental health 5)Students want more of this type of training

Discussion: Benefits demonstrated in this cohort included a perceived improvement in understanding, empathy, transferrable communication skills and confidence in initiating conversations about suicide. There was enthusiasm for expanding this method of communication training to other situations.


1.         Hillis J, Morrison S, Alberici F, Reinholz F, Shun M, Jenkins K. ‘Care Factor’: engaging medical students with their well-being. Medical Education. 2012;46(5):509-510. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2012.04229.x

2.         Rotenstein LS, Ramos MA, Torre M, et al. Prevalence of Depression, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicidal Ideation Among Medical Students: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(21):2214-2236. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17324

3.         Olly’s Future: Suicide Awareness and Prevention Charity. Accessed 16/9/21, 2021.

(b) Kent and Medway Medical School

Peer Review 

“It is clear through their feedback that our students at KMMS both benefited from, and enjoyed, the Dr SAMS, Ten Tools and Care Space initiatives. An academic review was also conducted on these two initiatives by a practising doctor who stated: “I would have found these sessions useful when I was at Medical School”. Dr Julia Hynes, Senior Lecturer – Medical Ethics, Law, Professionalism; Medical Humanities. Academic Lead for Student Life and Wellbeing, Kent and Medway Medical School

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