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Final year becomes third Bristol law student in 14 months to die in suspected suicide

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University encourages students and staff affected by news to contact support services

Bristol Law School. Image credit: YouTube

The city of Bristol has been shaken by the death of Justin Cheng, the third law student to die in a suspected suicide in 14 months.

The University of Bristol confirmed that Cheng, from Canada, had been found dead away from Bristol on the evening of 12 January. Mark Ames, director of student services at the Russell Group university, said:

“The police have told us they believe he took his own life. There were no suspicious circumstances and the coroner will hold an inquest in due course. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends.”

His comment continues:

“It is immensely distressing for members of our university community to learn that one of our students has died. We know that this will be especially difficult for those who knew and studied with Justin. If students or staff are affected by this tragic news, we would encourage them to contact university support services as well as seek support from friends or family.”

Unfortunately, this is far from the first suspected suicide to rock the university.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Since the death of first-year history student Daniel Green in October 2016, seven students are believed to have taken their lives while studying at the University of Bristol or the University of the West of England (UWE). Aside from Cheng, this total includes two law students. These are Bristol fresher Kim Long and UWE first year Sam Symons, both of whom were found dead in their halls of residence.

Philosophy student Miranda Williams, neuroscience student Lara Nosiru, modern languages student Elsa Scaburri and maths student James Thomson have also all recently died while studying in Bristol.

Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of wellbeing charity LawCare, says:

“We were very sad to hear about the death of law student Justin Cheng and our thoughts are with his family. We would urge anyone in the legal community who is feeling low to talk to someone — a tutor, a friend, a colleague, a family member or the LawCare helpline. We offer confidential help and support and can be reached 365 days year on 0800 279 6888.”

The University of Bristol says it will continue to work with students and staff “to enhance our services in response to the unprecedented rise in mental health difficulties amongst young people”.

Struggling with depression or stress? You can contact LawCare.

39 Comments

Depressed

Not only Bristol. It is an epidemic. Universities do not invest enough in students’ wellbeing. They make you fill in piles of documents before you are seen by a specialist. They refer you to medical institutions like GP’s who are unable to help. They do not allow you to defer an assessment, which puts even more pressure on an individual who is suffering from a severe form of depression. And I know I will receive hate for saying this, but it is about time we start recognizing depression as a serious illness.

(51)(1)

Anonymous

It is not our policy to provide feedback in respect of individual cases, but I can assure you that we are doing everything possible to bring this situation to a close as soon as possible.

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Henry mostyn

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Henry mostyn

Do you bleach, Alex?

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Henry mostyn

Why is alex’s prissy Asshole such a controversial topic? Every time I mention it, I get deleted

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Anonymous

So much pressure to succeed, especially as a professional grade salary is now necessary to sustain the sort of humble existence that a low grade managerial job would have sustained in the 70s.

Mortgage? New car? Foreign holidays? Forget it.

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Anonymous

I am sorry to hear that life is tough, but we cannot offer you a refund at this time.

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Anonymous

Absolutely horrifying. Seven students in a year from Bristol and UWE is such a tragic waste of talented young lives. My heart goes out to their families … just too awful for words. There really needs to be an inquiry to see if there is some common theme and to take steps as soon as students start to give them some sense of perspective and to place an emphasis on pastoral care. We all felt the pressures of coursework and finals, at times it seemed relentless. It is trite to say that its far better to walk away from it and take time to try something else if you are really not enjoying it to the point where you are seriously depressed. There is an urgent need for the colleges (and not just Bristol and UWE) TO STEP UP AND STOP ANY OTHER TRAGEDIES HAPPENING.

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Henry mostyn

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

An inquiry isn’t needed. The answers are mostly the same:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/

Law student problems? The LLB is an intensive degree, no matter which institution you attend. To make the degree worse, a 2:1, which many non-law students would consider to be a decent grade, is dead average for anyone interesting in being a realistic candidate to become a qualified lawyer. The job prospects for wannabe lawyers are bloody dreadful as it is. Law is a grossly expensive profession to get into. The list goes on, but it is all relatively common sense.

Bristol problems? The chair of the University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust is a business man with English degree from Oxford and a MBA from Bath. The CEO of the Trust is a former cop. Actually, out of the 17 trust board members, there’s only 3 trained medical doctors and one nurse who has actually provided medical services to the public and worked up the ladder. The rest are corporate cronies that are apparently fit to run a public health service because they helped implement tax “incentives” at Rolls Royce or have just had a career of sitting on corporate boards with no other real relevant qualifications. It should be noted that this is not a unique set up… cronyism remains rampant across this island.

All of this is compounded by a continued general lack of front line support/attention to mental health issues by the government, health services, and private institutions. Plus the continued stigma surrounding depression and mental health, reducing the likeliness of self reporting. These are all very common themes so inquire no further.

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Anonymous

To be fair, a lot of universities have excellent support services, the problem is actually getting to use them. They are not intertwined with the various schools, they sit separately. You need to be the proactive one in seeking them, which can feel like an admission of failure.

In second year I had an significant workload, and took on far too many extra curricular activities. not wanting to let others down, I let my own performance slip dramatically. Fortunately, after missing one too many tutorials my advisor pulled me in for a chat and helped sort things out. The issue being, I would never have approached anyone for the help, I would have just let everything suffer.

i think people are far too quick to blame the support available to students. Pressure from parents, from the industry (it’s incredibly competitive) and from peers are all significant factors. The de-stigmatisation of seeking help is what really needs to be addressed.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

To be fair, a lot of universities have excellent support services, the problem is actually getting to use them. They are not intertwined with the various schools, they sit separately. You need to be the proactive one in seeking them, which can feel like an admission of failure.

In second year I had an significant workload, and took on far too many extra curricular activities. not wanting to let others down, I let my own performance slip dramatically. Fortunately, after missing one too many tutorials my advisor pulled me in for a chat and helped sort things out. The issue being, I would never have approached anyone for the help, I would have just let everything suffer.

i think people are far too quick to blame the support available to students. Pressure from parents, from the industry (it’s incredibly competitive) and from peers are all significant factors. The de-stigmatisation of seeking help is what really needs to be addressed.

(1)(2)

Eats Chitty, Shits Contracts

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

Disgusting individual.

Your mother would be ashamed.

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Anonymous

We are sorry that you did not find this individual to taste. We work with a number of local suppliers to ensure that quality remains at the highest levels, but occasionally unforeseen circumstances can lead to service issues. If you provide some further details our team will be able to assist.

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Ciaran Goggins

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

the sky is blue

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Anonymous

my thoughts are with the family members and friends. so sad.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

the pressure is really on. seminars, exams, vacation scheme applications, and working part time to pay for tuition and housing, it is really difficult to maintain good psychological health. all for a slim, literally 1 in 1000 chance of securing a TC or even a vac scheme. Truly ridiculous!

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Anonymous

We apologise for the lack of supply at present. We are continuing to attempt to fix the situation and should be in a position to provide an update shortly.

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Henry mostyn

Hasn’t this been a common occurrence at oxbridge for a long time? Like they even have bridges that are famous as suicide hotspots.

I guess everything is becoming more competitive, so this kind of pressure is getting spread to the rest of RG

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Henry mostyn

Apart from anything else, it’s not like they can fail out, move home and take over the running of their parents’ farm estate…as they don’t have one.
Striverism isn’t really a choice, it’s more or less the only alternative to unemployment, where they’ll be much worse off then people who’ve been gaming the system since day one. Shame

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Henry mostyn

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Henry mostyn

Why are people disliking this comment? Go write some poetry, gcse-failing disability bums

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Anonymous

I am not able to help you with this as it is a matter for the police.

Anonymous

Bristol law have always been too harsh with their marking.

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Anonymous

I am sorry that you feel this way but I cannot change the marking policy for you at this time.

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Trendspotter 5000

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

Trivialising a very real problem.

Not cool.

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Trendspotter 5000

Indeed, the fact that some idiots have been persuaded to hand over £9,250 to study law at that ex-poly is a very real problem that should be investigated to a greater degree by the government.

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Anonymous

I am sorry that you feel this way. We always endeavour to provide a fast and reliable service but on occasions performance can be affected by a number of factors. We hope that you accept our apology and that we will see you again in the future.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous

I am sorry to see that your comment was deleted. Whilst I am not able to provided specific comments in respect of the deletion as I am just another Anonymous commenter and in no way affiliated with Legal Cheek, I suggest that you do as instructed and take a moment to peruse the Legal Cheek’s comments policy to avoid any further deletions in the future. Have a wonderful day.

Best regards

(2)(4)

Anonymous

If you are a Canadian student reading this thread, I just want to share my experience with you. I know it is daunting to hold a foreign LLB, especial in Canada where most of the lawyers hold a high level of hostility towards UK LLB holders. Talk to your home counselor in a university and seek support as needed.

Expect a high level of hostility towards UK LLB degree holders. Personally, I don’t understand why this is the case, but the reality can be shown here, where most of the posters are in the legal industry in Canada.

see this:
http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/45542-university-of-law/

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/9892-going-to-law-school-in-britainaustralia-is-a-joke-old-thread/

Personally speaking, the hostility is growing ever since the foreign assessment regulation changed in 2015 = no LLB completed via the distance route would be recognized, without considering the fact that UK SRA allows reciprocity for those who hold a Canadian JD.

After graduating from a non-Russell group uni with a 2:2 LLB, I was able to find a job in Canada with many job applications. Although it is not an ideal commercial law job, it paid the bills and kept me working towards what I wanted to achieve.

If you are under 30, it is possible that you could apply for a working permit, but do your research before you select this route, as most starting positions pays approximately £20000 – £30000. UK Universities don’t warn mature students approaching or over 30 the possibility of not being able to find a job in the UK/the home country, nor do they have the responsibility to do that. It is up to you to decide if your legal education is worth it.

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