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3 student deaths at Bristol University

(172 Posts)

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bevelino Wed 23-Nov-16 22:06:05

I read today in the Bristol Post that 3 students have very sadly committed suicide in the first 3 weeks of term at Bristol University. My thoughts are with their families. I hope all students get the pastoral care they need.

QueenMortoficado Wed 23-Nov-16 22:07:21

Very sad. I know moving away for the first time will be hard for some, but surely three in such a short space of time is unusual?

228agreenend Wed 23-Nov-16 22:08:20

That's really sad.

Blossomdeary Wed 23-Nov-16 22:09:43

That is truly tragic. So very sad. Their parents must be devastated. The university needs to examine its safeguarding policy and pastoral care.

bevelino Wed 23-Nov-16 22:39:10

This is surely every parents worst nightmare.

Peaceandl0ve Wed 23-Nov-16 22:49:23

Gosh, my DD is in her first year there. It is truly awful.

iknowimcoming Wed 23-Nov-16 22:52:53

How awful, was discussing with a friend today how her Ds was getting on at uni, and his friends, and most of them were thinking of dropping out and one has already, we were saying how it's hard to know whether to try and get them to stick with it and see if things get better, maybe it's a timing thing, after the initial parties and freshers stuff it's gone a bit flat now and seems a long time till Christmas holidays, but if they're really unhappy would you force them to stay? All fees and accommodation costs would be lost I guess and that's a lot for most people. Not looking forward to this in a couple of years sad

antimatter Thu 24-Nov-16 06:16:43

My dd is at her firstvyear at uni. What helps her is a solid friendship group from school. She sees most of them every other week.
All of them are enjoying their courses. Nobody is dropping off. The only one who has his doubts is one who missed his offer and chosen an alternative course to be in the same uni as his mates. Hasten choice may backfire for him sad

ShesGottaTicket2Ride Thu 24-Nov-16 07:47:41

just had an email from a friend who's dc has left Bristol after the first six weeks. This particular dc is hard working with all A's, A* in a STEM subject..

what happened? Rubbish pastoral care was apparently part of the problem.... universities do have a 'duty of care' for young people even if they are 'adults' and should be held to account....

Wishfulmakeupping Thu 24-Nov-16 07:49:33

That's just so sad but agree 3 so close together there's something going terribly wrong there

ssd Thu 24-Nov-16 08:01:46

I think expecting young people to be adults at 18 is wrong, I see it on mn all the time, its unfair and unrealistic. Pastoral care is vital but usually on accessed by girls, IME.

MackerelOfFact Thu 24-Nov-16 08:07:06

That's terrible. I didn't go to Bristol, but distinctly remember suffering crippling depression a month or so into the first semester which lasted until about March the following year. Once the Fresher's excitement has worn off, you've started your course, and with only fledgling friendships to fall back on, it can be incredibly lonely; especially when it looks like nobody else is struggling (even though they probably are).

Hopefully this and other unis will take stock of their pastoral offerings - I suspect that with cuts to funding though, these are the types of services that suffer, and we all know how well NHS mental health services are funded....

antimatter Thu 24-Nov-16 09:05:26

I know teenagers suffer from a lot of mental problems nowadays.
More now than 5 years ago. During one if the talks from Pastoral care team at Cambridge aimed only at parents I asked a question prompted by my kids telling me that all of their friends (and them) worry all the time. The speaker confirmed that something changed about 5 years ago. They also said they don't know what is causing it but they see more students suffering from mental health issues since.

I worry for them. High exoectations and pressure they put themselfes under thinking that anything under 90% is a failure whilst First is 70%!

AddictedtoLove Thu 24-Nov-16 09:27:27

The university needs to examine its safeguarding policy and pastoral care

Really? We know very little about these students' circumstances (nor should we know). But in general, my experience as a university lecturer is that:
students can come with various pre-existing illnesses;
sometimes don't seek out the right kind of support;
sometimes deny they need help;
sometimes don't follow our advice about seeking help.

I've had personal tutees who say to me that they suspect they have a problem, but that if they don't do anything about it, it won't exist. Or that they can't afford the tresting (say, for a learning disability) when I know we fund the testing. Denial.

Or say to me that they have depression (for example) but don't want to take medication because they're not ill. Denial. Or they've seen their mother on ADs, and they don't want to be like their mother. And so on ...

No university can help a student if that student doesn't let them know, and/or follow advice. And universities are not the NHS.

Powergower Thu 24-Nov-16 09:29:18

My friends dd is at Bristol first year. Really struggling and wanting to leave. It's a combination of not having solid friendships, no pastoral support, but mainly massive massive worries and anxiety about money loans tuition fees and debt, and worrying about making her money last. She has lost a sooner in weight since sept and she's already tiny. More help needs to be given. And I really believe the mental health issues have escalated since the introduction of 9k tuition fees.

Windanddrizzle Thu 24-Nov-16 09:35:51

Sadly I think this is quite widespread, there were 5 suicides at York last year. DD's flat mate has suicidal thoughts , but had great difficulty getting an appointment with student counselling - despite the huge fees, this area is completely underfunded.

AddictedtoLove Thu 24-Nov-16 09:41:12

More help needs to be given. And I really believe the mental health issues have escalated since the introduction of 9k tuition fees

So, "more help" From whom?

Lecturers? We're not trained in MH. We should not be advising

Counselling services? What other things would you like to cut from already underfunded universities to provide more counselling?

I think students are often underprepared for university: they are pushed and helicoptered by parents all the way through school; their teachers are under pressure to teach so that pupils "achieve" results.

Just look at this forum on MN and all the AIBUs and posts in other education sections of MN about people's PFBs. I think some parents really need to have a good hard think & self-reflection about how they are complicit in a system which catapults so many young people into these states of anxiety and depression.

When I was an undergraduate 30 years ago, we didn't have fees, but only 15% of the population went to university. There was far less active "teaching" of the kind increasingly demanded - if I had a pound for every parent who asks me at an Open Day about contact hours, I could retire tomorrow. In my undergrad courses, we got on with it, we searched for stuff in the Library, we worked in study groups, we self-started. I had a fantastic education, in part because I was ready for the challenge.

I didn't see university as an extension of school. I knew that I'd be lonely at times, but that I was in a whole new world of interesting bright people, who also were committed to studying as I was. I saw university as a way of stepping into a bigger global world with many opportunities (and this was during a time of national economic uncertainty if you remember). And I was 17 when I went up, to a large competitive world-leading university. I revelled in it. I didn't always get First class marks - I was happy with low 2, i marks because I knew I was learning and that that would pay off. It did, eventually. But it took a deal of guts and taking risks.

So you know, I don't think it's actually harder nowadays; it's not easier either, just that the challenges are different. And parent really need to think about that, and look at their roles in preparing their children.

AddictedtoLove Thu 24-Nov-16 09:44:17

Further, would you want fees to increase to cover increases in counselling & health services in universities? Because £9k doesn't quite cover the costs of an undergraduate's education each year.

These are real questions that those of us working in universities face daily. Talk to my colleagues who are Senior Tutors. I know one of them spends 2 days each week chasing up the numerous students who have missed 3 or more scheduled classes. So that's their weekend gone in catching up on other week. This is the reality of the snowflake generation, I'm afraid.

AddictedtoLove Thu 24-Nov-16 09:46:53

but had great difficulty getting an appointment with student counselling - despite the huge fees, this area is completely underfunded

You need to understand that the fees are what used to be paid from general taxation. The fees are not "huge" - they don't cover the actual cost of most degree programmes, and they are what a university course has always cost. There is no increase.

And in my career I have seen counselling services increase exponentially.

Lightthelittlelights Thu 24-Nov-16 09:47:25

Addicted, fantastic post.

In no way am I saying that the parents are to blame for these suicides, clearly they had awful issues to end up this way. But even on this thread we have people saying 18 year olds aren't adults. They are! They can march off to war at that age if they want.

I think many young adults aren't prepared for adulthood and simply can't cope on their own.

Personally I won't be pushing my DC towards uni. If they want to go that's fine but I would much rather they had a trade behind them.

user7214743615 Thu 24-Nov-16 09:59:22

And I really believe the mental health issues have escalated since the introduction of 9k tuition fees.

No, there is no evidence for this.

Mental health issues have been gradually escalating in the 20 years I have been in higher education. There was no sudden transition 5 years ago. There was no sudden transition in 2012 when 9k fees were introduced.

I think students are often underprepared for university: they are pushed and helicoptered by parents all the way through school; their teachers are under pressure to teach so that pupils "achieve" results.

Completely agree with this. And many students in universities simply should not be there, because they are not actually interested in studying at university level.

Universities do spend large amounts of money we can ill afford on counselling and mental health support. I am an academic working in sciences. I am not trained in mental health. And yet I have to spend a surprisingly large fraction of my time dealing with students' mental health issues.

LIZS Thu 24-Nov-16 10:03:13

Very sad report. Agree with pp. Also there is a huge weight of expectation on these young people especially with the financial investment. If they don't make friends quickly they can easily feel very alone, even though friendships can be pretty fluid in the first year or so. It is really hard to admit that perhaps the course doesn't suit them , they weren't prepared for the workload or seeming lack of with less directed style of learning , or even how to cope practically. Let alone find the right route to express this. Fortunately Ds' uni seems very proactive about Pastoral support , had a MH awareness week recently and holds regular wellness events.

Strummerville Thu 24-Nov-16 10:06:12

This is so sad! Has something really changed? I went to university 18 years ago and remember being very happy there pretty much from day one, and I'm not a partier or a sociable type, I'm introverted and prone to anxiety...but I loved the freedom and the course I was on, liked studying and managing my own life. How sad if students have so many worries now that they can't enjoy university.

I have had the feeling that the world is somehow harder and less safe now than it was when I was that age, but thought it was just me getting older and having a different perspective.

YetAnotherBeckyMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Nov-16 10:08:00

Hello everyone.

We hope you don't mind, but when these threads are flagged up to us we usually add a link to our Mental Health resources - here. You can also go to the Samaritans' website here, or email them on jo@samaritans.org.

IminaPickle Thu 24-Nov-16 10:08:20

Freshers week is a perfect storm for MH crises- lots of booze and worseand sleeplessness when they're all in a new environment, the majority being away from home for the first time. sad

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