19-year-old ‘first class’ student found dead morning of university exam


A ‘first class’ student was found dead the morning of an exam he was ‘worried about’, an inquest has heard. Ben Trueman was determined to study at the University of Manchester in order to be closer to his girlfriend, who had moved from their hometown of Worcester to Salford a year earlier.

The 19-year-old pharmacy student was excelling in his studies and university staff had no concerns or warnings about Mr Trueman’s mental health, an inquest by Manchester Coroners Court heard on June 1. But after suffering ‘bad temper’ for five years and facing a breakdown in his relationship, Mr Trueman was found hanged in his room in the university halls of Unsworth Park, on the Fallowfield campus.

Appearing via video link from the family home, father Dr Laurence Trueman told the inquest his son claimed he wanted to ‘kill himself’ on occasion as a young teenager – ​but her family believed the comments were made out of “teenage bravado” rather than with the intent to harm themselves. Mr Trueman has completed his GCSEs and A-levels, improving his grades in Year Six.

READ MORE: Man in serious condition after being rescued from water at Salford Quays

Dr Trueman said he suggested his son try applying to colleges that summer, but instead took a year off so he could move to Manchester the following year, to be closer to his little girl. friend. “He thought it was a good idea,” Dr. Trueman said.

“But what really happened is that he spent most of this year pining for his girlfriend. He spent a lot of time in his room, in the dark. We have it encouraged to dress up and hang out with friends who were still around, but he really spent a lot of time in his room.”

Ben Trueman was found dead in Unsworth Park

The court heard Mr Trueman was granted a place to study pharmacy from September 2019 and although he had his own room in Unsworth Park he spent much of his time living with his girlfriend in Salford. Dr Trueman explained that the relationship was in trouble and he received a text message from Mr Trueman’s girlfriend saying he was “in a dark mood” and threatening to kill himself.

Dr Trueman said: “They may have been very much in love, but it was obvious that the physical act of living together was not as easy as they had expected.” Dr Trueman told the court that in October, while Mr Trueman was at his home in Worcester, his son stood on a motorway overpass and had to be warded off.

By December, Mr Trueman’s relationship had deteriorated further. On December 1, the court heard his girlfriend phone Dr Trueman, warning him that his son was on the roof garden above his apartment and suggested he jump off.

During a call with his parents, Mr Trueman said he had self-harmed. His parents rushed to Manchester and informed the police, who told the family to take him to Manchester Royal Infirmary.

While in hospital, Mr Trueman admitted to having “a low mood for five years”. The court heard Mr Trueman had previously self-harmed and taken drugs on occasion – but there was no record of him being questioned about either by Abayomi Omolawon, the mental health practitioner who saw it.

Mr Omolawon admitted he ‘should have’ discussed it and believed he had, but no records were available to prove this, while a review by the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust ( GMMH) admitted wrongdoing in keeping Mr. Omolawon’s records. Coroner Nigel Meadows described it as a “failure” and confirmed he would write a letter of concern to the trust.

Mr Trueman returned to Worcester over the Christmas period and was ‘in a bad mood’. The court heard Mr Trueman was ill overnight after Boxing Day and admitted to his family days later it followed an attempt to hang himself.

He also suffered after a disagreement at a New Year’s Eve party when his group of friends bumped into his ex-girlfriend, before she was told to ‘go away’. However, Dr Trueman said his son’s mood seemed to improve in the days that followed and he was determined to return to Manchester to complete his studies.

Samaritans (116,123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write how you feel or are worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email the Samaritans at [email protected], write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find the nearest branch.

For supporting people you are feeling suicidal, if you are worried about someone or bereaved by suicide, see http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk

CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, need to talk or find information and support. They are open from 5 p.m. to midnight, 365 days a year.

Greater Manchester Bereavement Service The Greater Manchester Bereavement Service can help find support for anyone in Greater Manchester who has been bereaved or affected by a death. No one needs to feel alone in their grief. www.greater-manchester-bereavement-service.org.uk

Child line (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number will not appear on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organization that supports adolescents and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Fight eating disorders: Beat provides adult and youth helplines offering support and information about eating disorders. These helplines can be called free of charge from all telephones. Adult helpline: 0808 801 0677, Studentline: 0808 801 0811, Youthline: 0808 801 0711. www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

Anorexia & Bulimia treatment: ABC provides ongoing care, emotional support, and practical advice to anyone affected by eating disorders, to those struggling personally, and to parents, families, and friends. Helpline: 03000 11 12 13. www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, in a low mood, or have suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for children and adults affected by bullying studentagainstdepression.org

For more information and links to charities and organizations that can help with drug addiction, visit https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/

“He sat downstairs with us watching TV, his phone was upstairs which was very unusual,” Dr Trueman said. “He was talking about the future, he told us his main goal in life was to graduate.”

Dr Trueman said his son appeared to have enjoyed his first week back in Manchester, but his mood declined the following week and he was feeling “anxious” about his next check-up on January 22. The couple spoke via text message the day before, and Mr Trueman told his father he would ‘try it’.

But on the morning of January 22, police received a call with concerns for Mr Trueman’s welfare. Greater Manchester Police informed the university and a student housing officer attended Mr Trueman’s room, where he was found dead.

Police inspecting the scene found a handwritten note from Mr. Trueman on his desk. A toxicology report revealed a number of drugs in Mr Trueman’s system, including cannabis and cocaine, while drug paraphernalia was found by police at the scene.

Dr Simon Merrywest, director of student experience at the University of Manchester, told the inquest that the university had never been notified of Mr Trueman’s mental health and that his guardians had no worry. He described Mr Trueman as a ‘gifted student’ who achieved ‘first-class marks’ in his early work, and Coroner Mr Meadows agreed: ‘The university could not have done more’.

Manchester Coroners Court
Manchester Coroners Court

In conclusion, Mr. Meadows ruled that Mr. Trueman’s death was caused by hanging and was the result of suicide. “Ben was clearly a smart young man and a complicated person,” he said.

Mr Meadows added: “He was clearly a much loved son and had he continued his education he would have ended up very successful. The true extent of his mental health issues was never fully diagnosed in the end. “

Following the investigation, Dr. Trueman told the Manchester Evening News : “We would like to say that despite all these problems, Ben was a wonderful, brilliant and handsome young man. We think he had a lot to offer in life and it is tragic that the promise of things to come is not able to flourish and flourish.

“Although we are heartbroken, we were privileged to have our son and we will always cherish the nearly 20 years he was a part of our lives. He was and always will be a deeply loved member of our family. .”

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