Natasha Abrahart’s parents launch legal case against Bristol Uni over daughter’s suicide

‘We want lessons to be learned and student safety improved where possible’

CW: Suicide

The parents of Natasha Abrahart have launched civil action against the University of Bristol nearly four years after their daughter tragically took her own life.

The second year physics student was found dead in her flat back in April 2019, the same day as she was meant to be giving a presentation in a 300+ capacity lecture theatre.

Just two months before that, she had been diagnosed with chronic social anxiety disorder.

Natasha’s family say there are “lessons to be learned” and claim the uni breached its legal duty of care.

During the case, Abrahart family’s lawyers will argue that the university failed to alter the time of Natasha’s oral assessments in respect of Natasha’s social anxiety.

They will claim the university breached equality laws and that these failings led to a worsening of Natasha’s condition, ultimately leading to her death.

Natasha’s father Robert told The BBC: “Natasha was an incredibly intelligent and academically able student who had her entire life ahead of her.

“We believe universities should owe a legally enforceable duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid harming the mental health of their students.

“Nothing can make up for losing Natasha but we’re determined to ensure that all relevant events which led up to her death are fully scrutinised.

“We want lessons to be learned and student safety improved where possible.”

A 2019 inquest into the death of Natasha Abrahart found that a contributing factor to her suicide was neglect by the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust.

Between 2016 and 2018, 11 University of Bristol students took their own life.

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol said: “Natasha’s death deeply affected everyone at the university and our thoughts and sympathies are with the Abrahart family.

“We recognise the immense efforts of our committed staff to support Natasha, but we are by no means complacent.

“Mental health is one of the biggest public health issues affecting young people globally – not just those studying at university.”

The case is set to be heard at Bristol County Court this week.

A list of wellbeing services available to Bristol students can be found here, as well as the Samaritans’ helpline.