The father fighting for change at universities after losing his son to suicide

James Murray tells Anna Hart about his struggle to be heard

Monday 05 October 2020 21:13
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Ninety-five students took their lives between July 2016 and July 2017
Ninety-five students took their lives between July 2016 and July 2017

James Murray never expected to be standing in a courtroom in Bristol on 1 May 2019: the day of the inquest into his son’s death. Ben was 19 when he lost his life to suicide.

He had moved from London to start his studies at the University of Bristol in September 2017. He died eight months later. Two hours before his death, his father met him for lunch. Murray had no idea that his son’s place at university had been withdrawn, that he hadn’t paid his accommodation or tuition fees despite having access to the funds, that he’d missed an exam and that he’d disclosed to a senior tutor that he was struggling with anxiety and couldn’t connect.

“Can you tell me how you decided to dismiss Ben?” he asked the Bristol University representative in the courtroom that day. He had been determined to use the inquest to prevent the same thing happening to other families. A convoluted answer involving progress examination board meetings and spreadsheets followed.

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