Coroner calls on universities to destigmatise MH issues

A coroner has called for universities to destigmatise mental health issues after concluding that a student took his own life after facing dismissal from his course and the prospect of losing his accommodation.

First-year Bristol University student Ben Murray, 19, fell from a bridge after receiving a note telling him he was going to be dismissed for missing lectures and an exam.

The senior coroner Maria Voisin said that more work needed to be done to make sure students felt they could declare their mental health issues without fear of missing out on a place at university.

Murray, who was studying English, is one of 12 students at Bristol who have killed themselves or are suspected of taking their own lives since September 2016.

During his inquest at Avon coroner’s court, Murray’s parents, James and Janet, said the university had failed their son.

They believe Murray was troubled and asked for help from the university but nobody saw him face to face to address his concerns.

On Thursday, Voisin ruled that Ben died from multiple injuries as a result of suicide. She said: “It is clear from the act that lead to Ben’s death that he intended to take his life.

“There were a number of issues in his personal life that support this evidence. His place had been withdrawn and he owed a significant debt for his accommodation.

“I will be writing to Bristol University, the Department for Education, the minister of suicide prevention [Jackie Doyle-Price] and Ucas [which helps process university applications].”

The coroner continued: “Bristol University have clearly made many fundamental changes to their practices since Ben’s death, and they should be praised for that. But there needs to be a move towards de-stigmatising mental health.

“Currently, only 37% of students [with a mental health issue] disclose it on their Ucas form or to their uni. More students need to be assured that disclosing this will not affect their place.”

Fully story: Guardian

Author: Philip Challinor
Posted on: 15th May 2019