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Worried about student tonight - potential self harm or worse?

(8 Posts)
ToastByTheCoast Sun 15-May-16 05:27:03

So sorry if this is wrong place to post, just need some advice on best thing to do/whether what I have done tonight makes things worse.

I had a 3am call today from by DS who is a student. The call was about someone else in university halls. The other boy often seems depressed (totally lay judgement here, I don't know if diagnosed or being treated).

Tonight the other boy has been posting very worrying messages and photos media. Other students in the group were worried, but it sounds as if this is not the first time he has made these comments. They checked on him when home and found him in bed, apparently asleep but couldn't wake him. They seemed pretty sure he just seemed asleep though, not unconscious. But there was something lying on floor which indicated he had been intending really serious, possibly deadly, self-harm. Other students removed this and all went to bed.

My son rang me at 3 am to tell me what had happened, he said he wasn't sure why he called me, I think just for reassurance. I suggested checking on the other student again and going to the uni welfare service in the morning but it is the weekend and no welfare contacts seem available until Monday morning (have googled). The halls are run by a private company rather than the actual uni, so nothing on site. Son (none too sober himself), then rang off to go to sleep.

I have been lying awake worrying for this boy. I do admit my worries are stronger because I know someone who lost her lovely son in similar circumstances. This might make me over-react but then I would rather this than something awful happen.

It didn't seem right to call an ambulance or the police; my son said there was no evidence of tablets/overdose etc in the room. Eventually, I found an emergency number for the halls online, rang it and spoke to night security. They are going to patrol and ask other students if he is ok, then refer to day security in the morning. I'm worried that this might not be handled very tactfully and will further upset the boy in the morning. My son will realise it is me who has told halls, but I am not concerned about that, more the impact on the boy and whether I have been heavy handed here and should have left things until proper (trained) support was available on Monday.

Or should I have done more? Have I over-reacted or under-reacted? Should I leave things now or still call Student Welfare on Monday?

Would really appreciate some perspective or advice here. Thanks.

BugPlaster Sun 15-May-16 06:56:14

I think what you have done is completely understandable and I can imagine myself doing the same and fretting about it.

Judgeaway Sun 15-May-16 07:29:32

I would I done the same op I hope he is ok

ToastByTheCoast Sun 15-May-16 13:52:48

Thanks so much to you both for your comments I am glad I am not over-reacting. It is doubly hard to be sure in the middle of the night. I have not heard from my DS yet so presume all is ok today but based on what my son said, this is not the first time, so it may well happen again. I think I will give the student welfare service at the uni a call on Monday. I am sure they have lots of experience in this and can offer him some unobtrusive support. It is such a fine line but if it were my son I would rather he got too much support than not enough. Thanks again.

Comeonmommy Sun 15-May-16 20:19:00

I think you have done the right thing. When I was at uni quite a few people struggled and i was unfortunate enough to loose 3 people in my 'digs' to suicide. I would hope the uni handled it sympathetically and got him any help that was needed and I hope his parents are eternally grateful

HarHer Mon 16-May-16 17:02:59

You did the correct thing. According to our local newspaper, there have been four suicides at our closest university this year and a significant number of visits from emergency services for mental health related issues. You acted in a very caring way.

ToastByTheCoast Sun 22-May-16 04:55:31

Hi and thanks to everyone who has commented, especially from (very sad) personal experience of this . I thought it might be useful for anyone searching in the future to know that the uni welfare service were extremely concerned and very thorough in following this up.

I rang them on the Monday, spoke to someone immediately and they have emailed and phoned me back several times this week. I think the students would have reported in the end but they were very concerned about over-reacting or getting the boy into trouble and were trying to sort it out amongst themselves and agree to report by consensus. I think this might have taken much longer and there were enough red flags for me as a parent to call immediately. I then found was an online reporting form that could have been used to report concerns or even at night or weekends, if I had rung their normal switchboard, I would have had an option to call uni security who would have called a mental health duty worker.

I don't know how they are supporting the student or whether he will stay at uni, they would obviously sort that out confidentially with him and hopefully his family. But something that hadn't occurred to me was the welfare team's huge concern about the impact on all the students in the residence (all first years). They have spoken with a couple of the group about not having to take responsibility for watching him but have also given them more information and an emergency number if they are worried. It is exam season and pressure mounting for all of them and I think whatever action they take looks at the situation as a whole, not just the boy at two strands of support going on at once.

My son was worried enough to call me in the first place, but is still a bit concerned his friend will be 'sent home'. I don't know about that, but the bottom line is about support, possibly treatment and feeling well and happy about the future again. If that means changing plans or repeating a year, it is surely worth it compared to what could happen

This time last week I felt I had to report but was worried, a week later I know it was absolutely the right thing to do and that there is a lot of support a uni can offer. Also that students/friends can sometimes, with misguided best intentions try to handle this among themselves for too long and though they are adults themselves, they may need outside help/parent support to act promptly.

AnotherStitchInTime Tue 24-May-16 21:30:38

You definitely did the right thing.

When I was at Uni my flatmate had severe depression and exhibited some very strange behaviour over a matter of weeks. I had no idea as I was away, working and at my boyfriends in that time. Came back to have a dinner party for other flatmate's birthday. Depressed housemate got very paranoid and attacked birthday housemate, attempting to strangle them. They had three people restraining them after they were pulled off to keep them from attacking again.

No one knew what to do. I phoned my mum. She told me to phone Police and their parents. The flatmate was admitted to hospital and his parents took him home. They came back and completed their finals a few months later. They also phoned to thank me even though at the time they shouted abuse at me when moving out.

The other flat mates had all known for weeks they weren't right, but it took a mature adult to see the situation for what it was and give me the courage to phone for help for them.

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