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"He went through a torment": parents criticize Bristol over suicide | Education


"They had six months to help, but they did nothing". This is the verdict of the parents of Natasha Abrahart.

Margaret and Robert Abrahart have accused the University of Bristol and the mental health services of letting their student daughter who had a great social anguish and was hanging on the day of her discouraging presentation.

They argue that the university should have known that its condition made it extremely difficult to speak in front of other students or teachers; He had six months to implement measures to help him test himself to resist in a "laboratory conference" in front of almost 50 students and advisers in a large conference room.

Robert said: "She was not hit by a bus and she died in a moment. She was subjected to torments for six months before she died. What she had was a phobia, a fear. She would do almost anything to leave A room in which he was scared of fear. It is as if a person with aracnophobia was placed in a spider's room. His phobia was assessed or judged negatively in social or performance situations.

"Look at Natasha how it was that day. What options did you have? Go to the conference, when your greatest fear is to be judged wrong by others? It would have frozen. But if it did not appear, I thought it would leave the course, leave the university and sent home shamefully. They had six months to help, but they did nothing. "

Natasha, 20, is one of the twelve students at the University of Bristol who, or suspected to have it, were killed since September 2016.

The university said that the entire community was deeply affected by the death of Natasha and insisted that she was supported. He says he has worked hard to improve the way he addresses mental health problems.

However, Margaret said: "They annoy me a lot when they give these diffuse statements that they say they did their best to help. It does not match what we have heard.

"It's almost as if the death of a student, the life of a student does not matter. It is more important that they represent the correct image. We would like them to say:" We have made mistakes, things are not going well in this case and that is what we are doing about it. "There are problems in many universities, but Bristol is worse. They will not reflect and will not accept the problem."

The Abraharts affirm that they have had to transfer the information on what happened to their daughter of the university. "Things have hidden us," Robert said. "We had to push, push and push".

The couple said that Natasha, from Nottingham, was shy from a very young age and was reluctant to speak to others, but she was intelligent and independent, with a wide circle of friends. He had a good level in level A and won a place at the prestigious four-year master of the science physics course in Bristol.

A photo of Natasha, 18, of an album created by her friend Zoe about what her 21st birthday would have been.

A photo of Natasha, 18, of an album created by her friend Zoe about what her 21st birthday would have been. Photo: Adrian Sherratt / The Guardian

"She was fully prepared to go to college," said Margaret, a retired professional from psychological well-being. "We considered her as a really strong person capable of caring for herself."

The first year went well, but in January 2018, their parents realized they were worried about leaving the MSci course. "She would have considered this a great failure," said Margaret.

On March 20, 2018, one of Natasha's roommates telephoned at the family home and told Robert, who was an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, who had just tried to hang up. "It was almost impossible to believe," Robert said. "I could not take my head. The whole world had been around."

When Natasha spoke to her mother, she said that what she had done was "silly" and that she would not repeat it. Her parents volunteered to pick her up, but insisted she wanted to stay until the end of the term, a few days. They made sure that you had people around you and seek medical help.

During the Easter break, he returned home and his parents took care not to talk to him if he did not want it, but to provide him with a safe and supportive environment. "He was subjected," Robert said. "And it did not work as hard as it used to do."

Margaret said: "If we had not known about the attempt to hang, we would not have suspected that something was not going well. She cooked, cooked, and went out with her friends."

On the last day of the vacation, Robert asked him directly if it was safe for her to go back to Bristol and ask her with whom she was speaking at the university. Natasha told her she had spoken with a staff member named Barbara Perks in the physics department.

Margaret led to Natasha in Bristol on April 15. She was tranquilized that her daughter was talking to medical experts and the physics department. But on the morning of May 1 a police officer arrived at the family house and reported that they had been found hanging at 14.30 a day earlier. I had come to the laboratory conference at 2:00 PM.

"We feel insensitive," said Margaret. "We tried to focus on practical things with regard to identifying the body of Natasha, ordering the floor and returning her body to Nottingham to be buried."

But during the following months, the couple began to investigate Natasha's death and was surprised at what they found. It emerged that there were three suspected suicide episodes in February and March.

After the first, Natasha was seen by a head doctor at the student health service. The doctor concluded that he was in a "state of acute distress" and made an urgent reference to Avon and Wiltshire mental health collaboration (AWP).

He met a psychiatrist on February 23, but an independent expert who investigated the case of Natasha said that no suitable plan was developed for her. He was not seen by a recovery coordinator until two months later, on April 26, four days before his death.

The Abraharts were surprised at how the university treated their case. They discovered that he had been fighting since the beginning of the academic year. The laboratory lecture was part of a crucial module that included individualized interviews with teachers. He stayed without the first. "From that moment, she was failing," Robert said. Natasha managed to do only two of the five interviews.

Adrian Barnes, senior mentor of the physics department, met Natasha in early December and concluded that she had "true social anxiety." During the investigation into his death, he insisted that he was not failing and the university was trying to find a way to help her.

But at the time of the conference no special measures were established and his family insisted that he definitely thought he was failing. "The university has argued that they would have fixed it, but Natasha did not know," Robert said.

The Abraharts were surprised to discover that Perks was not an academic expert or welfare, but a student management manager. They found an email from Natasha to Perks in which he said: "I wanted to tell you that the last days have been very tough. I've been having suicidal thoughts and, in a way, I tried." Perks helped Natasha to seek medical help, but he did not tell the others about the email because he was concerned about confidentiality.

A central issue of the case for Abraharts is why no one had a complete picture of Natasha's situation. They believe that medical professionals knew something of their state of mind, but they did not have any knowledge of their academic problems; and the university knew that he was struggling with his work, but he did not know how the seriousness of his mental state was.

To the frustration of the Abraharts, neither the university's disability services nor the student welfare service were called to present evidence in the investigation.

Robert said: "There are so many faults, it's hard to say that one or the other was responsible for Natasha's death. Everywhere we found a problem with a description.

"Why are these problems still after so many deaths? It's because no one has been watching correctly. Nobody has done an in-depth investigation. "

In the United Kingdom, you can contact Samaritanians at 116 123 or by sending an email to In the USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, Lifeline crisis support is 13 11 14. You can find other lines of international suicide assistance at

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