A CORONER said it “wasn’t possible” to assess risk from an email after questions were raised about the mental health support offered to a “talented” student found dead in his university halls in Bournemouth.

Nathaniel Vincent Navanithian Frank, 20, died in his room in the Oxford Point university halls in Oxford Road, on December 4, 2020.

An inquest held at Bournemouth Town Hall on Tuesday recorded the death as a suicide, but questions remained on the support offered to Mr Frank during his time as a film student at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).

The inquest heard how Mr Frank, a “talented artist”, had been suffering with anxiety and depression for a number of years.

Close friend Rabia Raja, giving evidence, said Mr Frank had spoken to her multiple times about his struggles and she’d often lie awake with him at night to make sure he was okay.

Ms Raja said: “One time he expressed he was suicidal, I got him to call the wellbeing service at our uni.

“We sat down in our kitchen, I typed an email out for him and said, ‘I am in need of wellbeing help’.”

Ms Raja said the wellbeing service phoned Mr Frank the following morning, but he didn’t respond because he was in a lecture.

Heidi Cooper-Hind, head of student services at AUB, told the hearing a wellbeing officer emailed Mr Frank following the missed call to which he replied asking if he could get in touch another time.

The service said he could call back or attend a drop-in session, but he didn’t make contact.

Ms Cooper-Hind said it is usual practice for the service to make two attempts to contact people who reach out, and there was nothing to be concerned of, based on the “language and tone” of the email, in Mr Frank’s case.

She did accept, however, with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been “helpful” to follow up Mr Frank’s email with another call.

The service has since employed more people to make more follow-up calls, but the 20-year-old’s cousin, Joanna Rajasooriya, said “more could have been done”, and reading an email wasn’t enough to determine the risks.

Assistant coroner for Dorset, Debbie Rookes said she “didn’t think it was possible to see a risk that a student poses on the face of an email”.

She added: “I am pleased to hear the service has taken on more practitioners which would enable more follow up calls.”

An AUB spokesperson said after the hearing: "Our Student Services Team respond to all wellbeing enquiries, and will attempt to make contact with students on a minimum of two occasions.

"The university Wellbeing Service offers same-day support to students throughout the academic year, and where there is an indication of concern, either via a student themselves, their course team or peers, we will continue to reach out to them.

"Our Student Services Team remain committed to providing an easily accessible, effective and reliable service and we continue to ensure that students and course staff are aware of the resources that are available.

“Nathaniel was an important and valued member of our university community, and our heartfelt sympathies rest with Nathaniel’s peers, friends and family at this very difficult time.”

The Samaritans can be called free at any time on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.