University of Bristol told to learn lessons after Ben Murray’s suicide

Ben MurrayImage copyright Family photograph
Image caption Ben Murray died in May 2018

A university has been asked to investigate the death of every student to see if any lessons can be learnt following a number of suicides.

The Avon coroner Maria Voisin told Bristol University it should make detailed inquiries after each death.

Ben Murray, 19, died after being told by letter to leave his course.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mrs Voisin said the transition from home to university “was huge and universities carry an important pastoral role”.

No serious probe

The university said it had since changed its policies around students.

Mrs Voisin said she was concerned the university did not carry out a “serious investigation” after Mr Murray’s death.

She also called for mental health to be “de-stigmatised” and more disclosure on application forms.

Speaking after the inquest, James Murray said he believed his son would still be at Bristol if the new measures had been in place for him.

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Media captionBen “dismissed without a face-to-face meeting”

He said the circumstances around his son’s dismissal from university had been “unacceptable” but added he was pleased it changed its policy last September.

“I can’t say Bristol is a safer place… but I think with the new practices and procedures they’ve put in place… if they are carried out to the letter then I believe Ben would still be here today.

In the past three years, 12 University of Bristol students have died.

Eight of the deaths were recorded as suicide, two inquests are still to take place and two inquests returned narrative verdicts.

In a statement the University of Bristol said it was “very sorry” his family felt the support offered “wasn’t enough”.

Prof Sarah Purdy said: “We are extremely grateful to Ben’s father James who has worked with us… to develop a Suicide Safer Strategy.

“Complex mental health challenges cannot be addressed by universities alone, and we cannot be expected to replace the NHS.”

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