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'Don't bottle it up' - mother of student who took own life urges others to talk

Jess Fairweather, left, with his brother Sam, on Cromer Pier. An inquest into Mr Fairweather's death has taken place in Norwich. Picture: COURTESY OF SAM FAIRWEATHER

Jess Fairweather, left, with his brother Sam, on Cromer Pier. An inquest into Mr Fairweather's death has taken place in Norwich. Picture: COURTESY OF SAM FAIRWEATHER

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The mother of a UEA law student who took his own life just three weeks into his course has urged others to talk about how they feel.

At the funeral service for Jess Fairweather, which took place at Bluebell Wood in Hainford on what would have been his 21st birthday. Picture: STUART ANDERSONAt the funeral service for Jess Fairweather, which took place at Bluebell Wood in Hainford on what would have been his 21st birthday. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Jess Fairweather, 20, was found hanged in his flat in Kett House by a cleaner on October 11 last year.

An inquest in Norwich on Friday heard how the University of East Anglia (UEA) student had been suffering from depression since 2014.

His family said after starting his law degree in September 2018 he struggled to adjust to student life, often feeling lonely in his halls of residence.

He stopped seeking treatment for depression after a bad experience at his home surgery in North Walsham.

At the funeral service for Jess Fairweather, which took place at Bluebell Wood in Hainford on what would have been his 21st birthday. Picture: STUART ANDERSONAt the funeral service for Jess Fairweather, which took place at Bluebell Wood in Hainford on what would have been his 21st birthday. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Speaking to the BBC after the inquest, his mother Beverley Bishop stressed the importance of not “bottling up” emotions.

She said: “Talk. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t keep it to yourself and you are not alone. So many people feel like that, but you’re not the only one. People do understand.”

Mr Fairweather was first diagnosed with depression in January 2014 and had two follow-up appointments with CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services), but Mrs Bishop said he found them unhelpful.

“He said ‘What would a middle-aged man in a suit know about me?’,” she said.

On July 19, 2017, suffering from low mood, he attended an appointment with Dr Stuart Davidson at Birchwood Surgery in North Walsham, after which he was put on a low dose of antidepressants.

But he expressed concerns to his mother that the medication he had been prescribed was causing him to have “suicidal thoughts”.

He had a third follow-up appointment booked with Dr Davidson on October 6, 2017, but arrived eight minutes late and left without being seen.

Mrs Bishop, from Cromer, said he was “incredibly distressed” about the incident. “After that event he refused to go back. He didn’t think there was anything they could do.”

Dr Davidson told the inquest the surgery has since changed its policies to avoid patients missing appointments if they arrive late.

Mr Fairweather did not seek any help for his mental health problems after that missed appointment.

The inquest heard Mr Fairweather had left his job as an estate agent to do a year-long college course which would get him into UEA to study law - something he was “passionate” about according to friend Ryan Head.

The court heard he was an active student, with a busy social life and membership of groups including the Law Society.

Andreas Stephan, head of law at UEA, said in a statement that Mr Fairweather’s death had “affected the staff deeply”.

“He was the best prepared for his teaching sessions and the best contributor to the sessions,” he said.

Johanna Thompson, assistant coroner for Norfolk, reported a conclusion of suicide. She said: “It is clear that Jess took his own life for reasons we will never know.”

• The Samaritans can be called for free, at any time on 116 123 or by emailing: jo@samaritans.org.

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