The parents of a Bristol University student who died suddenly amid a spate of suicides at the institution have raised £10,000 to fund their fight for answers.
Natasha Abrahart, 20, passed away in April, becoming one of 11 students to die at Bristol since 2016.
Her parents, Robert and Margaret, launched a crowd-funding effort to pay for expert legal advice ahead of a full inquest into Natasha’s death next year.
Their fund hit an initial target of £10,000 through individual donations ranging from £5 to £800 since it launched earlier this month.
On the crowd-funding page, the parents describe their journey to uncover the truth as to what happened in the months leading up to Natasha’s death as “painful, distressing and emotionally draining”.
They said the inquest will be “our one shot at finding out as much as we can about the circumstances in which our daughter died, and whether there were any failings that contributed to her death”, thus requiring expert legal advice.
“We are determined to ensure a full and fearless inquest into Natasha’s death,” they said. “We need to fully understand the events that led up to her death and, hopefully, to ensure that students around the country are made safer.”
The parents added: “We’re so grateful for everything that has been pledged so far. Even if people can’t donate it would be a huge help if they could ‘share’ the campaign and spread the word.”
The Abraharts will use the initial funds raised to pay for legal counsel and preparation ahead of a second pre-inquest review hearing in November, following an initial session in the summer.
The hearing is expected to decide the scope of the full inquest, due to take place in May, and whether evidence will be heard by a jury.
The actions of Bristol University and local NHS mental health services are expected to be scrutinised.
An earlier hearing was told how Natasha had “no contact” with the university’s wellbeing team despite telling a staff member she was suicidal.
Student mental health has been taken on by Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, who has said tackling the issue is “non-negotiable” for vice-chancellors.
HuffPost UK reported recently how two of the UK’s top universities still lack a single student mental health policy, and how confusion reigns at many institutions over whom is told what when a student’s health declines.
The Abraharts are continuing to raise a further £40,000 to fund legal counsel and prep for the full inquest next year.
UPDATE: This article has been updated throughout after the Abrahart’s reached the initial £10,000 target on 25 October.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.