A fresher died after UoL ignored appeals for help following suicide attempt

Ceara’s request for mental health help went unanswered due to overstretched staff and industrial action

A fresher was ignored by the University of Liverpool after reaching out for mental health help following a suicide attempt, an internal review has found.

Ceara Thacker, 19, passed away suddenly in May, three months after telling the university she had attempted to take her own life.

An internal review at the University of Liverpool found that despite upcoming industrial action being known about, staff in charge of welfare support did nothing to preempt this sort of situation occurring. It also appears there were no plans in place to help students in crisis.

This meant Ceara's self-referral form requesting help following the suicide attempt was left unanswered for over a month and she died just weeks later.

An internal review was then ordered by the coroner, and Ceara's parents shared it with the Huffington Post.

According to the university's report, Ceara attempted to take her own life on February 21st and immediately informed staff at her university halls' reception. Staff then put her in a taxi to hospital with a friend. However, according to the report at no point was the "academic part" of the university advised. Details about the incident were passed onto the hall's residential advisors.

The review adds that between February 22nd and March 26th, the student's request for help went unanswered due to "extended industrial action" and overstretched staffing, particularly as one member of the university's already small mental health team had left their role.

Ceara eventually met with an advisor on April 24th, over two months after she initially referred herself for support. During this meeting the advisor noted her "current suicidal thoughts".

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The internal review states that at the time, a senior member of the mental health team did intend to offer a further appointment. However, the team was still catching up with appointments following the industrial action.

Ceara Thacker was found dead in her University of Liverpool accommodation on May 11th.

Her parents have said they were told about her previous suicide attempt when they arrived at her halls to pack up her things two days after she died.

Ceara’s mum, Lorraine, has said she is also concerned about support for her daughter’s friends.

“I am in touch with a lot of Ceara’s friends from university and, for me, the responsibility for her care seemed to fall to a group of people that were not equipped to deal with it,” she said. “They are still bearing that responsibility and that is what I find difficult to deal with going forward. Young people shouldn’t have to take on that level of responsibility. They had no idea what to do and they are all equally suffering now. It’s not gone away. That’s horrendous.”

Ceara's dad, Iain, said: "We don’t want the same things to happen again, otherwise it might just go unnoticed and become just another statistic and nothing’s improved."

Iain Thacker has pointed to the university’s mental health code of practice which says that confidentiality can be broken if "there are serious grounds for concern about the student’s mental well-being".

Iain added: "We, as her parents, were the last to know,” he added of Ceara’s February suicide attempt. “That’s stuck with me. It has to change."

As part of our coverage of Mental Health Awareness Week, we created a guide on all the help available at UoL. If you're struggling with your mental health you can read it here.

If you’re struggling with a mental health issue, or know someone who is, please contact the Samaritans helpline on 116 123 or contact your university’s counselling service.

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