Natasha Abrahart suicide: MP brands Bristol uni 'callous'

Labour MP Helen Goodman Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption Helen Goodman said she wanted universities to take pastoral care seriously

An MP has branded the University of Bristol "callous" over its handling of a student who killed herself.

Last week an inquest ruled Natasha Abrahart took her own life partly as a result of neglect by mental health providers.

But Bishop Auckland Labour MP Helen Goodman said the university should have done more to help her.

The university said it "tried very hard" to help Natasha and the coroner had found no fault with it.

Ms Abrahart, 20, from Nottingham, who was studying physics, was found hanged on 30 April last year, shortly before she was due to give a presentation.

The inquest at Avon Coroner's Court heard staff knew she suffered from panic attacks in relation to oral assessments but she was still expected to give a presentation to students and staff in a 329-seat lecture theatre.

Image copyright Abrahart family
Image caption Natasha Abrahart made several attempts to take her own life, the inquest heard

Ms Goodman tweeted at the weekend: "If I had a child applying to university I certainly wouldn't send them to @BristolUni."

Speaking afterwards, she said: "It was callous. They could have just given her a written exam.

"She was evidently good at exams because she got into Bristol University to study physics, yet because they were so bone-headed and insistent on those assessments, they turned somebody who was a success into somebody who felt she was a failure."

Ms Goodman said she had tabled questions with the education secretary seeking more information about student suicides.

She said: "I would like to see universities take pastoral care seriously."

Zero Suicide Bristol spokesman James Cox said: "It should be an aspiration for students to attend the University of Bristol, but their apparent lack of a constructive response to the increasing number of student suicides is giving the university a new and unwanted reputation.

"This issue is not going to go away for the university until it accepts that it has a fundamental role in being part of the solution."

A university spokesperson said: "We are very sad our efforts could not help prevent Natasha's tragic death.

"We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our mental health and wellbeing strategy and the support we provide our students and staff with Helen Goodman directly."

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