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  1. ITV Report

Student reveals how pressure of deadlines left him 'desperate not to be alive'

Mat Miles has revealed how his mental health deteriorated while studying for his masters at Bristol University. Credit: ITV News West Country

A student from Bristol says he feared for his own life after falling into depression and not getting the support he needed.

Mat Miles’ mental health deteriorated while he was studying for his masters at the University of Bristol.

He said he struggled to cope with the pressure of deadlines and - at his worst - went three weeks without attending his course.

During that time, Mat said he had no contact with anyone from the university - and often thought about taking his own life.

While Mat said he doesn't think the university wants to have a negative impact on its students, he called for greater support and training to be provided to staff to help them identify those suffering from mental health.

Mat said the pressure of deadlines made his depression worse.

It got to the point where I genuinely couldn’t get through the whole day without weeping the whole day, and it was genuinely so difficult to get out of bed.

I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be alive’. I wasn’t making any plans or anything but I was so desperate not to be alive.

– Mat

It was with the help of his close friends and family that Mat said he was able to recover from his depression.

“One friend would help me by making sure I got out of bed in the morning,” he explained.

Mat's mental health improved thanks to the help of his close friends and family. Credit: ITV News West Country

“He would come in and drag me up and make me a cup of coffee. Other friends would meet up with me for lunch and check in.

“That was the biggest support really. I honestly think it could have been the end of me if I didn't have that.”

Thirteen Bristol students have died in the past two academic years - of which seven were attributed to suicide by a coroner.

Bristol University is now looking at how it can improve student access to counselling, to cut down current waiting times.

University of Bristol. Credit: ITV News West Country

It has also put in place two new wellbeing services, which have helped more than three-and-a-half thousand students.

I think we were already on the path to strengthening our support about three years ago and in a way what the deaths have served to do is to confirm the direction we're trying to move things in is the appropriate one.

– Mark Ames, director of student services at Bristol University

Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have shown warning signs beforehand.

These can include becoming depressed, showing sudden changes in behaviour, talking about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness.

These feelings do improve and can be treated.

If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123.