A Fusion coach contacted me about the troubling number of suicides at Universities among students. For her, it became personal when Natasha Abrahart, the daughter of a friend, took her own life on 30 April 2018, aged just 20, at Bristol University.
Natasha’s parents, Robert and Margaret, want a full investigation into their daughter’s death with total transparency regarding the availability of support for vulnerable students. They also want to ensure that any findings are acted upon. The inquest, to be held in May 2019, will raise the issue of the adequacy of emotional support for all students and for young people living away from home at university in particular.
Worryingly, growing numbers of young people in England and Wales are killing themselves, official figures now show.
There were 177 suicides among 15 to 19 year-olds in 2017, compared with 110 in 2010 and more than in every year since then except 2015, when the toll was 186, the Office of National Statistics data shows.
A little while ago, I wrote an article I hoped would offer help to those in crisis. I called it ’Having Suicidal Thoughts? This blog could save your life.’ It explained the dangers of extreme emotional hijack and loss of hope. It’s one of my most read articles. It’s frightening that there are so many out there clinging on to their mental health by their finger nails.
Robert and Margaret Abrahart are trying to make something positive to come from their personal tragedy. They want the whole area of student mental health support investigated and are now crowd funding to get legal advice before the inquest.
This is what they say on the site CrowdJustice
‘Our daughter was one of eleven students at the University of Bristol who took their own lives in the last two academic years. We are determined to find out why this happened, if anything could have been done to prevent it, and whether things need to change to make students safer.
Who are we?
We are the parents of Natasha Abrahart, who took her own life on 30 April 2018 aged 20. She was a second year physics student at the University of Bristol and the 10th of 11 students at that university to die in this way since October 2016. In the months before her death Natasha told the University, the student GP practice and the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust that she was suicidal and had acted on these thoughts.
Shortly after Natasha died, another student death was reported in the press, making a total of three deaths in three weeks at the University of Bristol. Still in shock, we suddenly became very aware of other grieving families and devastated friends. Like us they would be asking: “Why did this happen? Could anything have been done to prevent it?” Our initial personal grief and disbelief was intensified to the point of wanting to help put matters right.
We need to fully understand the events that led up to her death and, hopefully, to ensure that students around the country are made safer. If possible, this will be achieved by identifying any unsafe practices that are still in place, which, if not corrected, could result in further deaths.
To ensure that this happens, it is essential that all interested parties, including our family, have access to properly funded legal representation.’
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- In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide help lines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
Links to related published articles raising concerns about student suicide and mental health at Bristol
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