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UK: Indian student lay dead for days after suicide

February 27, 2013 18:51 IST

A 22-year-old Indian-origin student in the United Kingdom, who committed suicide last year, lay dead and undiscovered in his bedroom for days, an inquest has heard.

Vivek Ajit Shah, electronic engineering student at Manchester Metropolitan University, lived in a shared house near the university campus but despite not being seen for three days, flat mates at the house had not realised he was lying dead on his bed, an inquest heard this week.

An alarm was raised only when he failed to arrive for a family gathering in London in June last year and his relatives asked a friend to check on him at the Rusholme suburb of Manchester.

A postmortem was unable to determine exactly how long he had been lying undiscovered.

Manchester Coroners Court recorded a verdict of suicide this week, with the causes of death identified as asphyxiation and gas inhalation.

"Everyone at Manchester Metropolitan University would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Vivek. He was an excellent student with a promising future and he will be much missed at the university," a university spokesperson told PTI.

The inquest into his death heard that Shah had researched suicide methods and mental health problems online in the days before his death in June last year.

"If he had shouted for help, his family would have rallied around. I believe he had continued to suffer with untreated depression and I am satisfied that he intended to kill himself. If Vivek had any idea of the heartache and grief of those left behind, I'm sure he may have thought again," coroner Nigel Meadows said in his statement.

The student, described as "kind and geeky" by friends, had not been seen for three days before Alex Faulkner went around to his house.

"When I opened the door Vivek was lying fully clothed on the bed and there was a gas canister on the floor. I was shocked, I thought he was probably dead but phoned an ambulance in case he was still alive," said Faulkner, who had known Shah for three years.

"He liked to fix other people's computers and was interested in computer games. Everyone loved him," he added in reference to his friend.

At the inquest hearing this week, it also emerged that Shah had suffered depression and anxiety both as a teenager and in the months up to his death, becoming withdrawn and failing to attend his final year exams. He had previously taken antidepressants and undergone psychological therapy after suffering depression in previous years, but his family believed he had become more positive after changing his university course.

A referral from his general physician in Middlesex, north London, where his family is based, to mental health services back in 2011 had not been followed-up for several months.

When Vivek was contacted to ask if he still wanted an appointment, he said he was too busy with his exams. However, he had shown no signs of stress or unhappiness in a phone call to his family days before his death.

Aditi Khanna