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Cambridge PhD student takes own life

Cambridge University PhD student killed himself at his halls of residence after 'falling apart' due to stress, an inquest heard today.


James O'Shea, 22, returned home to live with his mother in the summer of 2017 after finishing a masters degree at Bristol University, where he told doctors about feeling 'depressed and increasingly low'.

Deferring his place at Cambridge until January 2018, he visited the local GP four times to speak about his struggles with mental health and was prescribed the anti-depressant Citalopram before being asked to return 14 days later.

However, the inquest heard his surgery did not see him again until October when Mr O'Shea's mother, Kate O'Shea', was concerned he might try to take his own life.

Mr O'Shea also shared that he wished to die and was seriously contemplating 'jumping off a cliff' and 'wrote notes' to family members.

However, his inquest heard he would often hide how he was truly feeling to NHS staff and a private counsellor he was speaking to online.

Mrs O'Shea said: 'James was terrified of being sectioned. He made a good face to people.

'He would pour his heart out to me and then would come back and say that 'I'm alright now.

'He had seen his uncle in a mental home and it had a big impact on him, he was really disturbed.'

Mr O'Shea took up his place at Darwin College in Cambridge in January 2018, and was found dead on the 20th of that month.

His mother said he had been 'falling apart' due to the stress of his studies.

At the inquest, Bursar of Darwin College, Cambridge John Dix, was asked by the coroner ''are we seeing a lot of suicides?' [at universities].

Dix replied saying: 'It's a suicide epidemic'.

Mr O'Shea has been diagnosed with low level Asperger's as a child, the inquest was told.

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