A “top” pharmacy student was found dead on the morning of an exam he was “anxious” about, an inquest has found.
Ben Trueman insisted on studying at the University of Manchester so he could be close to his girlfriend – who had moved to Salford from her hometown of Worcester a year earlier.
The 19-year-old student was doing well with his job at the university and teachers were not worried about Mr Trueman’s mental health, an inquest at Manchester Coroners Court found on June 1.
But after five years of experiencing “low spirits” – followed by the breakdown of his relationship – Mr Trueman was found hanged in his room in the university halls of Unsworth Park on the Fallowfield campus.
His father dr. Laurence Trueman appeared via video from the family home and told the inquest that his son claimed he wanted to “kill himself” on occasion when he was a younger teenager.
However, his family felt such comments were made out of “teenage bragging rights” as opposed to any genuine intent.
Mr. Trueman completed his GCSEs and A-levels and improved his grades in his second year of high school.
dr Trueman said he suggested his son try to apply to universities that summer, but instead took a gap year so he could move to Manchester the following year to be closer to his girlfriend.
“He thought it was a good idea,” said Dr. Trueman.
“But what actually happened was that he spent most of the year pining for his girlfriend. He spent a lot of time in his bedroom in the dark. We encouraged him to get dressed and go out with friends who were still in the area, but he really spent a lot of time in his bedroom.”
The court heard Mr Trueman secured a place to study pharmacy as of September 2019.
While he had a room of his own in Unsworth Park, he spent much of his time living in Salford with his girlfriend.
But dr Trueman explained that the relationship was struggling and he received a text message from Mr. Trueman’s girlfriend saying he was “in a black mood” and threatened to kill himself.
dr Trueman said, “They may have been very much in love, but it was pretty obvious that the physical act of living together wasn’t as easy as they expected.”
dr Trueman told the court that in October, while Mr Trueman was at home in Worcester, his son was standing at a motorway overpass and needed to be talked down.
By December, Mr Trueman’s relationship had further collapsed.
On December 1, the court heard how his girlfriend, Dr. Trueman called and warned that his son was on the roof garden above their apartment and he suggested he jump off.
Speaking to his parents, Mr Trueman said he harmed himself. His parents rushed to Manchester and informed the police, who ordered the family to take him to Manchester Royal Infirmary.
While in hospital, Mr Trueman admitted to being in a bad mood for “five years”.
The court heard Mr Trueman had previously self-harmed and occasionally used drugs – but there was no record of Abayomi Omolawon, the psychiatrist who saw him, being asked about him.
Mr Omolawon admitted he “should” have discussed it and believed he did, but no records were available to prove it, while a review carried out by the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust (GMMH) found errors in the Record admitted by Mr Omolawon.
Coroner Nigel Meadows described it as a “failure” and confirmed he would write a concerned letter to the Trust.
Mr Trueman returned to Worcester over the Christmas period and was “dejected”.
The court heard Mr Trueman was ill overnight after Boxing Day and days later admitted to his family that it followed an attempt to hang himself.
He also suffered a disagreement during a New Year’s Eve when his group of friends met his ex-girlfriend before he was told to “go away”.
dr However, Trueman said his son’s spirits appeared to have improved in the days that followed and he was determined to go back and complete his studies in Manchester.
“He was downstairs with us watching TV, his phone was upstairs, which was very unusual,” said Dr. Trueman. “He talked about the future, he told us that his main focus in life is his studies.”
dr Trueman said his son appeared to have enjoyed his first week in Manchester, but his mood deteriorated over the following week and he felt “anxiety” ahead of his upcoming exam on January 22.
The day before, the couple spoke via text message and Mr Trueman told his father he would try.
But on the morning of January 22, police received a call with concerns about Mr Trueman’s wellbeing.
Greater Manchester Police informed the university and a hall of residence officer visited Mr Trueman’s room, where he was found dead.
Police who inspected the crime scene found a note in Mr. Trueman’s handwriting on his desk.
A toxicology report found a range of drugs in Mr Trueman’s system, including cannabis and cocaine, while police found drug paraphernalia at the scene.
dr Simon Merrywest, director of student experience at the University of Manchester, told the inquiry that the university had never been warned about Mr Trueman’s mental health and his tutors had no concerns.
He described Mr Trueman as a “gifted student” who achieved “top marks” in his early work, and coroner Mr Meadows agreed: “The university could not have done more.”
In conclusion, Mr. Meadows ruled that Mr. Trueman’s death had been caused by hanging and was the result of suicide.
“Ben was clearly an intelligent young man and a complicated person,” he said.
Mr Meadows added: “He was clearly a very beloved son and had he continued his studies he would have ended up being very successful. The true extent of his mental health issues was ultimately never fully diagnosed.”
After the examination, Dr. Trueman with that Manchester evening news : “We would like to say that despite all these problems, Ben was a wonderful, bright and handsome young man. We believe that he had much to offer in life and that it is tragic that the promise of things to come does not come true and may flourish.
“While we are heartbroken, we have been privileged to have our son and we will always cherish the nearly 20 years that he has been a part of our lives. He was and always will be a deeply loved member of our family.”
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/first-class-uni-student-found-27136266 'Top' college student found dead on morning of exam he was 'feared' about