Student revealed suicidal thoughts to mental health trust before his death, inquest hears
PUBLISHED: 18:01 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:01 05 March 2020
A student who was found dead in his room at the University of East Anglia had been given an NHS mental health risk assessment prior to his death, an inquest heard.
Theo Brennan-Hulme, 21, who had Asperger's syndrome - a form of autism - and anxiety attacks, died in March 2019.
The inquest into his death at Norfolk Coroner's Court heard that he had been referred by his GP over concerns about his mental health.
Bibi Aniza Nordally, a clinical support worker with the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust who was present during the assessment, carried out by a registered nurse, said the student had admitted suicidal thoughts and self-harming.
She said: "Initially he was not overly talkative but as the meeting progressed he told us more about his background. He told us that he was not eating properly and was not attending lectures."
The student, from Stoke-on-Trent, had stated his self-harming was a "coping mechanism" but that he had a "supportive family who he had contact with regularly", she said.
Questioning Mrs Nordally, the family's solicitor Paul Clark asked whether any effort had been made to contact the family following the assessment, and she admitted it had not.
Mr Clark said timings of calls to a taxi firm for his journey to and from the appointment suggested the assessment may have lasted less than half an hour.
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The inquest had earlier been told the first year English literature and creative writing student had first told UEA wellbeing workers that he was having suicidal thoughts in September 2018, six months before he died.
An email from February 2019 suggested a warden check on him following concerns raised by his mother that he had retreated to his room and was at risk of self-harming.
It was forwarded by his student advisor to Katherine Drayton, lecturer and senior advisor, but she told the inquest she did not know whether the check was ever carried out or whether it was raised with wellbeing services.
His mother Esther Brennan said her son was the "loveliest, most selfless gentleman you could hope to meet".
In a statement she said she hoped in future parents would be told if their children at UEA needed help. "I hope changes can be made for all the sons and daughters at university," she added.
The inquest was adjourned until a later date.
- The Samaritans 24-hour confidential helpline can be accessed by calling 116 123. You can also contact them by text or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- SANE provides confidential emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness. It also provides a resource for anyone affected by suicide. Call 0300 3047000 (4.30-10.30pm daily).
- Wellbeing Norfolk & Waveney provide support for people over 16 with mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. Call 0300 1231503 - lines open (8am-8pm).