Father calls for change to data protection following student death

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The father of a University of Bristol student who took his own life wants data protection rules to change to prevent further student deaths.

The student was the 10th Bristol student to take their own life in the last two years. His father now calls for the rules to be adjusted so that parents can be told if students are struggling.

The University has stated that it will consider an ‘opt-in’ for next of kin to be informed about major concerns regarding wellbeing.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Anna Foster, the parent said he was under the impression his son ‘was enjoying himself’ after first term and seemed to be having a good time.

His father wishes that the data privacy rules were more open so that the University could express concerns with families before any more tragic deaths occur.

He claims his son was ‘carrying a lot of pain and anxiety for six months and wasn’t telling us what was going on’.

The parent wonders, ‘having gone through all the different moments when we could have intervened to save our son’s life, it’s absolute nonsense that you would look at an issue and say: ‘You’re an adult therefore data privacy applies’.

In a statement, the University of Bristol said student mental health and wellbeing was the ‘single biggest challenge the higher education sector faces’.

‘As a University we are taking every step we can, working with our students, staff, and health partners to ensure our community is as safe and supportive as we can possibly make it.

‘Our vice-chancellor has met with the father and we are actively working with his, and other parents, as part of our plans to create a structure of preventative services and policies that avoids our students reaching crisis point.

‘This includes implementing an ‘opt-in’ contract with our students which would enable contact with nominated next of kin if we had a major concern about their wellbeing’.


**Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have shown warning signs beforehand. These can include becoming depressed, showing sudden changes in behaviour, talking about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness. These feelings do improve and can be treated.
If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123. **

Other student support services include: Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/ 0808 802 5544 Nightline https://www.nightline.ac.uk/want-to-talk/ Papyrus https://www.papyrus-uk.org/ 0800 068 41 41 Student Minds http://www.studentminds.org.uk/findsupport.html

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Nikki Peach

Deputy Editor 2018/19, formerly News Editor 2017/18 / Second-year English student

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