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Editor defends suicide story after uni brands it ‘misleading and inaccurate’

Mike NortonAn editor has hit back after a university accused his newspaper of publishing “misleading and inaccurate” claims that it suppressed information about student suicide rates.

Mike Norton, left, has stood by the Bristol Post’s claim that the University of the West of England knew that 14 of its students had killed themselves in the past eight years – despite the institution claiming it did not hold the information.

The university issued the original denial in response to a Freedom of Information request by UWE law student Callum Tucker,  who asked how many students had taken their lives in the previous five years.

The Post says leaked academic board papers, showing there had been 14 suicides in the past eight years, proved the information was held in UWE’s database, and published a story about this on Friday.

The piece prompted the university to issue a public response on its website, in which it said: “We wholly dispute the misleading and inaccurate Bristol Post article published today (23 November 2018) regarding the University’s mental health and wellbeing services.

“The article suggests we are a university that is not investing sufficiently in mental health support for its students, does not care about its students, and has withheld information about the number of suicides among its students. This is not true.

“The article contains factual inaccuracies about our willingness to release information about student deaths and about our spending on mental health support services and wellbeing practitioners.”

But, speaking to the BBC, Mike said the Post had “treated the reporting of student suicide with sensitivity and responsibility.”

He added: “We stand by this story which is properly researched and accurate.”

HTFP has approached Mike for further comment.

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  • November 29, 2018 at 2:57 pm
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    Hi Mike,

    I have gone through an very traumatic experience with UWE in September and i didnt know what to do. Had i not been a strong willed person, i would definitely have been one of those that commited suicide. Can i please possibly arrange a meeting with you to discuss my experience. I would appreciate if you could be able to signpost me for help to resolve it.

    Thanks,
    Irene.

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