Mother of 20-year-old from Kent who took her own life wants legal duty of care for universities

Watch: Video report by ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken

The mother of a 20-year-old woman from Kent who took her own life while away at university says legal change is urgently needed.

Phoebe Grime, who was from Cranbrook, was struggling with her mental health - and her mother says she should have been contacted by the university.

Her family has campaigned alongside other bereaved parents, whose children had also committed suicide while at university. They all want universities to have a statutory duty of care towards their students.

On Tuesday 25th April, Phoebe Grime's mother, Hilary Grime, handed a petition of more than 128,000 signatures to Downing Street.

Phoebe Grime's family say she was energetic, enthusiastic, loved her family - and surfing. 

In this video, filmed while she was still living at home in Cranbrook in Kent on her 18th birthday, she says she doesn't need to make a wish, as she is 'happy in life'.

But Phoebe Grime struggled with her mental health while studying at Newcastle University, made worse by Covid lockdowns and then when her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Phoebe's family says Newcastle University knew Phoebe had a suicide prevention plan and had spoken to counsellors about wanting to end her pain. Phoebe's mother says she should have been told Phoebe was at risk.

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “Phoebe is remembered fondly as a talented and popular student. In her 18 months here, our dedicated wellbeing team provided her with ongoing support and counselling.  

“The Coroner in Phoebe's inquest could not identify any point where things could have been done differently by the University or by her private counsellor.

“Nonetheless, we continuously seek to improve support services and work with key partners to help any student struggling with their mental health.”

If you are struggling and need support you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.

If you're experiencing a mental health problem you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652