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Mother of UEA student who took his own life tells BBC Radio 4 'we all need to look out for each other'

PUBLISHED: 08:32 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:24 02 May 2019

BBC Radio 4, Today programme broadcasting live from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

BBC Radio 4, Today programme broadcasting live from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

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The mother of a University of East Anglia student who took his own life just three weeks into his degree has said student support services need to be more accessible.

Jess Fairweather, left, with his brother Sam, on Cromer Pier. Picture: COURTESY OF SAM FAIRWEATHERJess Fairweather, left, with his brother Sam, on Cromer Pier. Picture: COURTESY OF SAM FAIRWEATHER

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (May 2), Beverley Bishop, whose son Jess Fairweather, from North Walsham, died on October 11 last year, said everyone from staff to students had a responsibility to look out for one another.

Speaking to the broadcaster Justin Webb, Ms Bishop paid tribute to Jess before addressing how students should be supported while at university. She said: “My Jess was lovely, a really lovely boy, he was a memorable character, full of charisma and charm, he was very funny and outspoken.

“He wasn't afraid to express his opinion and wasn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers if need be, if he felt passionate about something he would say.

“For me he was my absolute bundle of joy, we used to have so much fun together.”

Ms Bishop said her son had hoped to become a lawyer had worked hard to get the grades to get into university. She added: “Jess was so excited to be here... UEA was the place he wanted to come.”

But she also said she remembered the look on his face when she dropped him off university, she said “For me, one of the things I find personally quite difficult, is I will never forget the look on his face when I said I'm going to go now son.

“He looked so frightened.”

When asked if she thought there was a “list of things that could be done” to support students who experience mental health difficulties while at university she added: “There's no one size fits all. If I knew what would have made a difference to my Jess I would be the first one banging the drum, I would be shouting louder than anybody else, I don't know actually know what that one thing would be and it's probably more than that one thing, everybody is different.

“I think everybody's got responsibility, everybody, the university, the individuals, the students, I think we all have a responsibility...I think we all have a responsibilty to look out for each other, to be there and to listen and I think it's really important that we know services are available and how you can access those services, and those services need to be as accessible as possible.”

BBC Radio 4's Today programme presented by Justin Webb was broadcasting live from the Sainsbury Centre on the UEA campus.

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