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Father creates data system to help prevent student suicides after his son died

Shared by Ana Duarte on 2019-08-27 15:45

About the solution

Ben had been kicked out of his university when he was 19. That meant that he would have no place to stay.

However, the family wasn’t aware of Ben’s stress. Not only Ben kept this secret, but also Bristol University, where the boy studied, didn’t pick picked up on various clues as to Ben’s mental health problems.

James contacted the school and asked them what data that had on Ben, as he thinks that should have been a way for the university to be more aware of Ben’s state. The father identified several factors which, although simple, are more worrying when considered together. Simple facts like Ben’s entry to the university through clearing, to more obvious clues: he was struggling academically, not attending lectures, and had reported health concerns. But on one from Bristol University warned the family. “There seems to have been a lot of concern about what was going on, but no clear escalation or suggested interventions, including ‘why don’t you go to support services?”, he wondered.

This led him to develop a data tool that can be used to warn universities of mental illness or struggling students by looking for patterns across all data, rather than just isolated responses from different departments.

This system is being tested at Northumbria University, which helped James with the development. The tool gives an overview of whether students are paying rent, attending lectures, handing in essays or checking books out of libraries — and could trigger help rather than penalties.

He is working on this project with universities from the UK.

Adapted from: https://bit.ly/2HuUu5b


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About the author

James Murray, from the UK, produced an early warning system, that uses patterns od data, to help prevent student suicides after his son Ben took his own life, in 2018, by identifying students who are struggling with their mental health.

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