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Message from Stuart Croft following the inquest into the death of WBS student, Will Bargate

This week an inquest was held into the death of Will Bargate, an undergraduate student at WBS. Will died in October 2020 and the coroner ruled that his death was suicide.

On behalf of our community, I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy to Will’s family, friends, the academic staff who had the pleasure to teach Will, and the many people who met Will, during his time with us.

Will was a gifted student who was popular with both students and staff on his course. His death shocked and saddened our whole community and it’s impossible to imagine the pain it causes those closest to him.

I would urge any student who is struggling, or who has any concerns about a friend or peer, to contact our wellbeing team via our wellbeing portal. They will listen, help you and provide the support you need.

This tragedy highlights a broader challenge in our society around mental health and how we encourage more people – particularly young men – to ask for support and specialist help when they’re privately struggling.

We provide a multitude of specialist support services – including counselling and psychological, emotional and practical wellbeing support, mental health mentoring, as well as access to in-person support through personal tutors and a residential team, and 24/7 digital mental health provision.

Additional support has been made available during the pandemic to help our students navigate their way through what has been an unprecedented period of disruption and challenge. We have also adopted the Universities UK/ Papyrus framework for ‘Suicide Safer Universities’ and implemented the best practice it recommends to help prevent suicides.

Following Will’s death, we carried out an internal review to see if and where we could improve and strengthen our approach. We are extremely grateful to Will’s father for sharing his family’s views and thoughts with us as part of this process.

As a result, we have changed our procedure for contacting students if they fail to meet deadlines and do not respond to emails from the University. In these circumstances, we will now attempt to get in touch in a variety of ways to help us to identify trigger points to escalate concerns to the wellbeing team, who will use their professional clinical judgment to assess the situation and identify any steps we should take to try to reach students.

And if a student misses an exam and no mitigating circumstances are submitted, this will now automatically trigger a follow up contact. As ever, we will remain open to further improvements and will continue to explore ways of strengthening our approach.

My heartfelt sympathies go out again to Will’s family, and I would ask the whole Warwick community to keep on showing care, kindness and support for one another following what has been a very difficult and challenging 18 months.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft 

Getting support

The package of services provided by the University are in addition to the local, regional and national services available to our whole community. We advise our students to register with a GP as a first step when they come to University, and if you haven’t already done so you can register with the on campus Health Centre if with you live on campus, and with your local NHS services if you live off campus.

Have a conversation with your doctor about how you’re feeling. They will advise you on services that can offer you support, specialist help, and even just company if that’s what you need. There is a lot of help available to you, but only if you take that brave first step and tell someone that you’re not OK.

If you are struggling, or you think that someone you know is struggling, please take it seriously – talk to someone about it – including family and friends, take a look into help that’s available to you and get in touch with them, especially if you don’t feel comfortable talking with the University for whatever reason.