Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019

Bristol University student ‘received no support’ before death

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A Bristol University student who faced being thrown off his course received no support from staff before he took his own life, an inquest heard.

Ben Murray, 19, died in May 2018 and his parents want to see earlier intervention for students struggling with their mental health.

His father James told the hearing Ben received no follow-up after receiving a letter saying he was being dismissed.

Mr Murray said his son previously told staff he felt “anxious” and “unwell”.

In the past three years, 12 University of Bristol students have died.

Seven of the deaths were recorded as suicide, three inquests – including Mr Murray’s – are still to take place or be determined, and two inquests returned narrative verdicts.

Mr Murray told the inquest at Avon Coroners’ Court, in Flax Bourton, the teenager, who had been studying English, was “active, a first team rugby player, and made good friends”.

He said when he last saw his son on the day he died, Ben had told him he was worried he would be thrown off his course for lack of attendance, but did not admit he had already been told he was being dismissed.

‘Confused’ by letter

Ben’s mother Janet said the university “failed him” for not referring him to the wellbeing support team within his halls of residence.

She said he had been “confused” by the letter he had received from the university informing him he was being withdrawn from his course, and had to ask friends what it meant.

She said: “No 19-year-old fresher should have been kicked off course without a face-to-face meeting.

“If a fresher who has worked hard to get A-levels and doesn’t turn up you should get in touch. And they should have notified us, the family.”

Mr Murray said the couple “had no idea” anything was wrong, and were “distressed” the university did not do more after they identified him as “a no-show”.

He added Ben had previously told staff he was feeling “anxious” and “was unwell”, but they “failed to remember this when dismissing him”.

The inquest continues.