A York student died after calling the uni’s mental health service ‘useless’, inquest hears

She was described as an ‘incredible person who was always there to support a friend’

A University of York student took her own life in March last year, an inquest has found.

Kiera Amelia Bennett was found dead in her bedroom in Langwith College, University of York, on 24th March last year.

Kiera was under the university’s Open Door service which her partner said she described as “useless” and “not helpful to her”.

The computer science student from Somerset had been suffering from mental health problems for years and was receiving counselling from York’s Open Door mental health service as well as treatment from University GP practice, Unity Health, the inquest found.

The coroner’s report found that she died by suicide and the police were satisfied that no suspicious circumstances were involved. Police found no signs of a disturbance or forced entry to her room and university security found her after her partner had raised concerns.

Her partner, also a student at The University of York, said they had met at university and as their relationship became more intense they were planning to get engaged and married. He said that Kiera had called Open Door services “useless” and “not helpful to her”.

Kiera had not been referred to a psychiatrist and her counseling took place online and without eye-to-eye contact due to the pandemic. This meant the practitioner had not been able to observe her body language or eye contact. The coroner said Kiera’s mental health had seemingly improved in early March and so it was not known what had been the “trigger” leading her to take her own life.

Mental health practitioner, Sarah Ward, said all counselling took place over Zoom or over the phone. She met Kiera in January 2021 and said she “engaged really well” with the service and appeared to have improved by early March, but experienced swings in emotions.

A close friend of Kiera’s said she was “an incredible person who was always there to support a friend.” She said Kiera told her she was having intrusive thoughts and mental health problems but was not receiving the support she needed.

A University spokesman told The York Press that Kiera had been a talented student who was sorely missed by everyone who knew her.

They said: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with her family and friends,”

“Looking after the mental health of our community is crucially important to us and our team of Mental Health Practitioners and Student Wellbeing Officers help students find support from a range of both University and external services.

They continued: “We continue to work closely with our students and partners across the city to ensure our students are able to access good quality and appropriate mental health services.”

The University of York has been contacted for further comment.

If you are struggling with stress or experiencing any mental health issues, there is help available. The University of York mental health support services can be found here. You can also contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

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