Lucy Spears, 22 (pictured in an undated photo) was studying to be a mental health nurse when she hanged herself
A coroner has slammed Brighton University for not helping a depressed nursing student who was battling an eating disorder before she took her own life.
Lucy Spears, 22, was studying to be a mental health nurse when she hanged herself.
She had been diagnosed with anorexia in October 2017 and an inquest heard she took a drug overdose at 17 and suffered from depression and anxiety.
Miss Spears was also seriously injured when a van knocked her off her bike on March 20 last year, which her father claims added to her mental health problems.
Her body was found hanged in her bedroom by her close friend Kayley Brown on May 9 last year – two days before she was due to meet with university support staff. At her inquest in Crawley, Coroner Penelope Schofield slammed Brighton staff for not providing enough support.
She told the hearing: ‘Here we have a student that clearly has mental health issues and there is no proactive engagement from the university whatsoever.
‘She was struggling with her anxiety and her work and where is the evidence of support for this vulnerable person?
‘University staff have a duty of care to their students and I have seen nothing to prove the support available in this case.’
Ms Schofield said she was shocked to find Miss Spears was turned away from a meeting at the university to discuss student support.
At that time she had two broken arms and a broken jaw from the cycling accident yet was asked to return with evidence to prove she needed support.
The hearing was told her three-year relationship with her girlfriend also broke down at this point.
Days after the accident her psychologist Lin Creasey, from East Brighton Mental Health, referred her to a crisis team run by the Sussex Partnership Trust because she had suicidal thoughts.
Brighton University was notified about the crisis team and arranged an appointment with Miss Spears two weeks later, May 11, two days after she killed herself.
Ms Schofield concluded: ‘Lucy who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder took her own life around May 9.
‘Her mental health had been really affected by the road collision, following which there was no welfare support by the university at this time.’
At Miss Spears’s inquest in Crawley Coroner Penelope Schofield slammed Brighton staff for not providing enough support. She is pictured with her dog in an undated photo
She said she was not satisfied with measures taken by the university to support students in need such as Miss Spears.
She adjourned the inquest until March and demanded a ‘prevention of future deaths report’ where the university must supply evidence of the support measures in place for students.
In a statement to MailOnline a Brighton University spokesman claimed an internal review was held after Miss Spears’s death and they co-operated with the coroner.
Paying tribute to his daughter, Lucy’s father Colin said: ‘With Lucy gone there is now a hole in our lives and in our hearts that can never be healed.
‘Her loss has been devastating for us, her family, and it’s proving almost impossible to come to terms with.’
Miss Spears’s family said she was smart, capable and had a bright future ahead of her.
She loved cycling and travelling and enjoyed her work placement at the Priory in Brighton, helping people with mental health issues.
Mr Spears said: ‘It seems to us now that Lucy always struggled with stress and depression.
‘Her career choice, mental health nursing, was her own attempt to tackle her issues.
‘A manager at the Priory, where Lucy worked before going to university, commented on how good she was working with patients and went so far as to say ‘she undoubtedly saved many lives’.’
A Brighton University spokesman told MailOnline: ‘The thoughts of everyone at the University of Brighton are with Lucy’s family and friends at what is a very difficult time.
‘The welfare of our students is our top priority and the University has a wide range of welfare and other support services in place.
‘The University carried out an internal review at the time of Lucy’s tragic death and submitted a full report to the coroner, detailing all of the support and care provided to her.
‘We are therefore very concerned that the coroner feels that there have been failings on our part.
‘The University takes the coroner’s views seriously and will take whatever actions are appropriate in the light of her recommendations.’
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