Cambridge University student promised GP he would not self harm

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Five Cambridge University students died by suicide between March and June 2022

A Cambridge University student promised his GP he would not harm himself a few weeks before his suicide, an inquest heard.

Philosophy student Anup Debnath, 20, was found dead in his room by porters at Clare College on 12 June.

The coroner heard he had felt "very lonely" and that he told a GP a friend died by suicide weeks beforehand.

Mr Debnath was one of five Cambridge students to take their own lives over a four month period.

The inquest, held at Lawrence Court in Huntingdon on Thursday, heard college porters received an email from Mr Debnath requesting they attend his room.

It had been sent with an electronic delay, the inquest heard, during which time he took his own life.

Mr Debnath, who was from west London and had recently secured an internship with accountancy firm KPMG, was found dead and had left a note, the inquest was told.

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In a statement read by Cambridgeshire coroner Simon Milburn, Mr Debnath's sister Moushami said they had planned a holiday to Italy for the following year, and a trip to visit their grandmother in Bangladesh.

"It's hard to believe he would want to cut his life with so much potential so short," she said.

Mr Milburn said Mr Debnath had no previous documented mental health issues before 2022.

The inquest heard he had appointments with the college's health and wellbeing service on 18 and 26 May, and was diagnosed with mild anxiety and moderately severe depression.

'Suicidal thoughts'

On 27 May, he saw GP Dr Katharine Townsend at the Newnham Walk surgery in Cambridge for a face-to-face consultation.

Dr Townsend told the inquest Mr Debnath said he had "been struggling with low mood and he had not been enjoying the things that he used to".

"He had been feeling very lonely," she said, adding he told her this had been "going on for a number of years".

"He said he had the tragedy of a friend of his dying by suicide three weeks earlier and since then he had increased suicidal thoughts himself," Dr Townsend said.

Dr Townsend said she asked him if he wanted to die, and "he said very quickly and simply 'no'".

"I thought that's very good, that's a good protective factor," she said.

She said she discussed the anti-depressant sertraline with him and gave him an electronic prescription, leaving it to him to decide whether to begin immediately or after his exams.

"I asked him to promise me he wouldn't harm himself, which he did," she said.

"Then he left. I remember thinking his manner was so much more positive when he left, so much more hopeful."

At the end of her evidence, Dr Townsend cried as she told family members, attending remotely: "I'm so sad you're going through this, I'm just so sad."

Concluding that Mr Debnath died by suicide, Mr Milburn said: "When and why his positive outlook that was witnessed by GP Dr Townsend on 27 May - why that changed, when it changed, isn't clear, but it's clear Anup didn't seek any further professional help after that appointment."

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