Twenty-five bereaved families yesterday handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for the creation of a statutory duty of care for students at risk of suicide in higher education.
The campaigners say about 100 students take their own lives every year. Because they attracted 128,000 signatures to the petition, MPs must hold a debate on the issue in the House of Commons.
Among the families at Downing Street were the parents of Oskar Carrick, a student at Sheffield Hallam University, who ended his life in university accommodation in 2021 aged just 21.
His mother, Maxine Carrick, said his death was avoidable and questioned why she was not informed that he had previously tried to kill himself two months before he died.
She said that Oskar was classed as a disabled student after a car accident in 2019 which had influenced his sleep and his memory.
An inquest held in Sheffield last December heard the university was bound by confidentiality standards which can only be breached in extreme circumstances.
A Sheffield Hallam University spokesperson said: “The university community was saddened by the loss of Oskar, and we would like to again offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
“The inquest into Oskar’s tragic death did not reference any failings on the part of the university.”
On a video posted on Twitter Mrs Carrick said: “If there has been a duty of care at university, he would be alive.
“I sent the next of kin declaration for somebody to contact me for any issues, but I was told I was misguided, and it was only there for such as an emergency like a flood or a broken leg. Not attempting to take your own life.
“His friends at university were pleading for help. They were asking for people to intervene because of the deterioration in his mental health. It was ignored.”
“Our lives have been broken and we don’t want any more people to be broken for the lack of a phone call or an email.”
The government responded that Higher Education providers already have a general duty of care not to cause harm to their students through their own actions.