Three freshers have committed suicide in Bristol this term alone, and the uni says nothing

The University say they’re unrelated


This term three freshers have taken their own lives. Not only tragic and traumatic for all involved, this is not the first time that student suicides have been reported at Bristol. Moreover, this is indicative of the lack of pastoral care and priority given to mental health at Bristol University.

Investigation into these deaths are due to be carried out by the coroner, but it remains clear that what the university called “three unrelated student deaths” should never have happened. It is yet another example of how they have failed in their duty of care towards students, and that the university should be held accountable.

The father of one student told the Bristol Post: “I don’t think there is enough pastoral care for students once they arrive at university. It is quite a step-up from sixth form. When I was told about the three deaths I was surprised there was no official news about it. I think it is something which should be discussed and people made aware of.”

All of the deaths took place in Halls of Residence, where most first years usually reside, and as many students find the adjustment from school to university difficult the fact that they took place here is not surprising.

A huge amount of students, myself included have, or will experience mental health issues at university. The statistics say one in four students have a diagnosable mental health condition, but it is likely that the number is much higher when it is considered that many people do not reach out for help. The problem is endemic, and it is clear that when the university does not have a clue how bad it is, especially considering that they said ‘we have no reason to believe that they represent a wider issue’.

I spoke to a student who has experienced mental health problems throughout her time at university, and her experience with the services that the university provides in regards to mental health will be familiar to many of us. She said:

“When I have attempted to engage with the services offered by the university, I have been largely disappointed. I attempted a full course of counselling with the student counselling, and left feeling patronised and hurt by how little I was taken seriously.”

More worryingly perhaps is the way that medication is prescribed to students experiencing depression, as this student voiced her concerns saying: ‘I still have concerns about the way that the health service deals with depression. There is no prescribing psychiatrist on site, which means that medication is handed out in an arbitrary fashion with plenty of guess work in terms of dosage…as many people know, one of the riskier side effects in young people is that suicidal tendencies will increase’. Clearly there are serious issues with how mental health is approached at this university, potentially in ways that will endanger the students it is supposed to help.

These deaths did not occur in a vacuum, and however much the university may imply that they did, they should be held accountable. Because one suicide is always one too many.