The mother of a student who committed suicide days after disclosing suicidal thoughts to his university stated that it could have been different if his family had been informed of his struggles.
On 3 February, Charlie McLeod, age 25, was discovered dead in his student housing at Aberystwyth University. His mother, Emma Laney, does not know if the university's wellbeing services did enough after he informed them. The university claimed to have maintained contact with Charlie throughout the year.
Ms. Laney stated that universities must do more to ensure that individuals in mental health crises receive the necessary assistance. She also added that had they simply notified home, the outcome could have been different.
Emma recalled her son from Winchester, Hampshire, as an extremely intelligent young man who was an amazing big brother to Max and Angel. After teaching English in China, Charlie submitted an application to pursue computer science at Aberystwyth.
He told everyone all the time that he was doing well on the course. He thought it was very interesting. Emma saw that he met some new people and seemed to be having a good time. She noticed a change in him during the summer of 2022, when he stopped communicating as frequently and kept telling his family he was occupied. "At Christmas, he appeared extremely depressed. He was unwilling to participate in anything. Everything appeared arduous. He just wasn't himself."
Emma was informed that Charlie committed himself to A&E on January 25 due to his mental health. The following day, he reported suicidal feelings during a scheduled counselling session with the university's wellbeing service. This was his final mission for the military, and he passed away days later.
In the autumn, there will be an investigation into his demise. While we cannot discuss Charlie's specific circumstances, our student wellbeing team was in contact with him throughout the 22-23 academic year with the intention of providing direct support and linking him to the appropriate NHS health and mental health services."
Emma stated that she had "an overwhelming sense that something wasn't right" and asked Charlie's father to contact the university, whereupon it was discovered that Charlie had passed away.
She stated, "I believe that significantly more should have been accomplished. More interaction and information exchange. If they had merely informed home or a mental health professional, the outcome could have been different."
Romana Nemcová, who is 22 years old and was Charlie's girlfriend, is now one of the people in charge of the 'Charlie Asked For Help' campaign. This campaign was started by other students to ask the university to change how it handles these kinds of situations.
The Charlie Asked For Help advocates assert that students need clearer communication with wellbeing services and assistance registering with a primary care physician when they enter college. The Welsh government said that they have put together a group of experts to give tips on how to improve access to mental health services and make sure that all universities in Wales offer students consistent and easy-to-find support. The University of Aberystwyth stated that it was "continuously" reviewing and updating its processes and procedures to provide students with "the best possible support."