Suicide prevention team part of inquiry into five student deaths at Cambridge University

The University of Cambridge says it is "shocked and deeply saddened" by the deaths of five students Credit: PA Images

The University of Cambridge has set up an urgent review into the deaths of five students in recent months.

One of the deaths has been ruled to be a suicide by a coroner and the other four deaths are being reviewed by a rapid Incident Response Group which has already taken evidence from the local Suicide Prevention Group.

Three students died in May 2022, and another student died in June. A second-year history student died in March 2022. His inquest heard he was "on course to finish as one of the most accomplished students in his year".

Cambridge Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Professor Graham Virgo said the university was "shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic deaths" and said "nothing is more important than the safety of our students."

"Our thoughts are very much with the families and friends of the students who have died.

"I want to reassure you that the University is taking this extremely seriously and is determined to work closely with our partners to help prevent future deaths."

The review was set up after four deaths at different colleges at the University of Cambridge. It was told that no common cause or clear linkages were evident from the first four deaths. Since then a fifth student has died and is the case is being reviewed in the same way.

There is a £5 million a year investment in mental health and student counselling services at the University of Cambridge Credit: Nicholas.T.Ansell/PA Wire/PA Images

Professor Virgo said: "We have provided access to bereavement support for the friends of the students who have died and have worked closely with the local NHS mental health crisis service to ensure that they are aware of the potential vulnerabilities among some of the students affected."

"Staff across the University and its Colleges work extremely hard to identify and help those who might be vulnerable."

The University said it was investing £5 million a year to increase the University Counselling Team and cut waiting times. There are also Mental Health Advisors and a new team of Student Wellbeing Advisors.

Frontline staff are being trained in suicide awareness with dedicated wellbeing advisors in colleges to help with the early identification of students in distress.

Professor Virgo added: "Sadly, across universities here in the UK, and internationally, we are seeing growing numbers of young people using counselling services and reporting struggles with their mental health."