UoM student who died by suicide wrote a letter saying the uni should have done more to help
He was described as ‘very loving, sweet, funny, and kind’
A University of Manchester student who died by suicide questioned why the university hadn't done more to help him.
In a five-page letter, Gus Lloyd, who died in May last year, said he was "surprised" the university had not made more of an effort to check up on him, despite being aware of his pre-existing mental health issues. He said: "In future, they should probably do more."
At an inquest held on the 1st of June, the 24-year-old was described by his brother as "a very loving, sweet, funny, kind brother, always very enthusiastic about what he was doing."
Gus Lloyd's family have learned that his death is one of 17 'possible suicides' at the university in three years – and the inquest raised questions about how students are looked afterhttps://t.co/uLOBt59c8P
— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) June 1, 2019
Gus started at Manchester in September 2012. After the first semester, during which he "struggled" to attend lectures, he decided to defer his place until the following year.
Gus's brother told the inquest Gus's anxiety disappeared "almost entirely" upon his return.
When Gus returned to Manchester in September 2013 his family thought he "had settled in quite well".
Gus passed all his first year exams, but by second year his anxiety had returned, his brother told the inquest.
The university refused Gus's request to study from home. Gus considered moving to another university, but eventually decided against it.
Taking another year out of his studies, Gus spent some time at home in Abergavenny in South Wales, before volunteering in Germany.
His brother told the inquest Gus was looking forward to returning to Manchester after his German "adventure" had ended. When he did, Gus became President of the board game society, and was having "regular" cognitive behaviour therapy.
The university allowed Gus to take his exams away from the main hall. Gus was also given time to "acclimatise" to his surroundings before sitting exams. The coroner said this arrangement constituted the "bare minimum" for someone suffering from a recognised mental health condition.
Gus registered with a GP, Gillian Bradbury, in September 2017. Gillian prescribed Gus the anti-depressant mirtazapine from that point on.
The GP later told the inquest she believed his depression was "well controlled" at the time.
When his family visited him in December 2017 they could see he "loved" Manchester, they told the inquest. Gus told them he was still attending lectures and on top of his work.
The hearing was told Gus had stopped collecting his medication by March 2018. In the post mortem examination no trace of the drug was found.
The GP practice had called Gus and written him "a standard letter," but Gillian admitted the practice doesn't "follow up" with patients if they don't engage.
Gus's family saw him for the last time in Easter 2018. The family told the inquest Gus "seemed very positive" and was "talking about the future". His brother said: "There were no signs I thought that he might be struggling."
When his brother had to try to get help from the university's Disability Advisory and Support Service he struggled to get access.
He said: "We feel that that the service didn't really appreciate or wasn't sensitive to what he was going through or anybody who was suffering depression and anxiety might have been going through."
The coroner said she would be writing to the University of Manchester to recommend an "opt in" arrangement for students. This would allow the University to contact consenting students' families should the student be in difficulty.
After the inquest, Gus's family released a statement, saying: "Gus was a loved son, brother, uncle and friend. He was much loved in return and he enjoyed a lot about life.
"He was fighting a hidden battle with anxiety and depression. Manchester University and his GP were aware of the problems Gus was undergoing and yet a limited amount was done to contact him when he stopped making contact with the university and collecting his medication.
"We believe Manchester University should examine its care process of students with mental health problems."
No tutor who had a personal relationship with Gus attended the inquest. A spokesperson for the University claimed no one at UoM had been informed of the date.
A freedom of information request made by the family revealed there had been an increase in "possible suicides" of Manchester students during the last five years. Gus was one of seven in the academic year 2017/2018.
A spokesperson for the university said: "The University is deeply saddened by the death of Gus Lloyd and our deepest sympathies are, of course, with his family at this difficult time.
"Had the University been invited to the inquest and known its date we would have attended as we attend every inquest into student deaths if we're made aware.
"We take the death of any student extremely seriously, especially in such tragic a circumstances as these.
"We will endeavour to work with the family and answer any questions they have."