Student told university of suicidal thoughts months before his death, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 14:25 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:25 04 March 2020

The University of East Anglia. Photo: UEA

The University of East Anglia. Photo: UEA


A University of East Anglia student who was found dead in his dormitory last year first told wellbeing workers about suicidal thoughts months before his death, an inquest has heard.

Theo Brennan-Hulme died in March 2019 at the UEA and has been described by his family as the "loveliest, most selfless gentleman you could hope to meet". He was 21.

At the second day of an inquest into his death at Norfolk Coroner's Court on Wednesday, the inquest heard how he first told a wellbeing worker at the university that he was having suicidal thoughts in September 2018, six months before he died.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Rebecca Irwing, a wellbeing advisor on campus who is also a trained mental health nurse, told how she had first met the creative writing student on September 27 after he filled out an online referral form for support.

She said that on this form Mr Brennan-Hulme wrote that he was "thinking about suicide and heavy drinking".

However, at the appointment she asked the 21-year-old whether he felt he would be able to keep himself safe, to which he replied "yes".

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She said: "From what I remember it was difficult to gain information from him."

A follow-up appointment was arranged with him for October 2018, but the inquest heard he did not attend. Miss Irwing said this prompted a visit from a wellbeing warden to be arranged.

Miss Irwing added that Mr Brennan-Hulme told her his suicidal thoughts and urges to self harm were exacerbated by alcohol and were particularly prevalent when he had been drinking.

Her last interaction with the student was at the end of January 2019, after which point a colleague took over his case.

On the first day of the inquest, which is scheduled to last three days, his mother Esther Brennan called for greater contact to be made by the university with family members of students accessing mental health support.

She also said: "He was the kindest, most thoughtful, lovely and selfless gentleman you could meet."

The inquest continues.

For support, call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123.

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