A student found hanged at her halls of residence faced an “unacceptable delay” waiting for a mental health appointment at her university, a coroner has said.
University of Liverpool student Ceara Thacker was found dead in her accommodation in May last year.
Iain Thacker said his 19-year-old daughter had mental health problems since the age of 13, but she kept in regular contact with her family after moving from Bradford to Liverpool to study philosophy in September 2017.
He said the family had not been told she had taken an overdose in February 2018 and believed she was continuing to take anti-depressant medication.
Recording a conclusion of suicide at an inquest into Ceara’s death on Friday, coroner Anita Bhardwaj said she would make a report for the prevention of future deaths to the NHS.
The coroner said she would recommend that the issue of parental involvement with consent is included in mental health assessments.
She added: “It’s difficult and unclear whether Ceara would have had a different outcome had she had additional mental health appointments, been given an urgent appointment and had family involvement.”
The coroner described a delay of two months between Ceara referring herself to the university’s mental health advisers in February and being given an appointment in April as “unacceptable”.
Speaking after the inquest had concluded, Ceara’s mother Lorraine Dalton-Thacker said: “We felt confident she knew how to ask for help and she approached every service and every service at every point let her down
“I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been for her. She should not have had to face this and it breaks our hearts that she did.
“We don’t want any other family to go through this pain.”
Iain Thacker said he couldn’t understand why his family had not been contacted by the university when Ceara was having problems.
He also expressed his disappointment that the University of Liverpool had no plans to change its policy regarding consent.
Dr Paula Harrison Woods, director of student administration and support at the University of Liverpool, told the inquest that changes had been made following Ceara’s death.
They included establishing guidelines on asking students suffering mental health problems whether they wanted their families to be informed, she said.
But Dr Harrison Woods added that the university had decided not to introduce an “opt-in” process, which the court heard has been adopted at Bristol University, where students fill in a form when registering to ask whether they would want their parents to be contacted in the event of mental health problems.
The coroner also said she would recommend additional training for dealing with people found hanging, in her report for the prevention of future deaths.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email email@example.com in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.