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October 4, 2019 | by  | in News |
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RA Speaks Out About Victoria University Hall Death

CW: death, mention of suicide

Salient has received comments from a Residential Advisor (RA) working at Education House when the body of the deceased student was discovered there in January 2018.

That RA was the individual who tipped off Salient about the death this week, feeling that they needed to speak out following the recent death of a student in Christchurch.

Speaking to Salient, they confirmed that the death of Australian student occurred in January 2018.

The RA is unsure whether the student was an Australian or New Zealand citizen, but said they understood his entire family “were all in Australia, and I think his family came in from Australia.”

This matches statements made by VUW to Salient.

The RA told Salient that they had received a call from the student’s mother in Australia, the Saturday morning before the body was discovered. She was concerned for her son’s wellbeing, and reportedly hadn’t heard from the student in a while. Credit card details showed he’d been purchasing lots of alcohol, which concerned her.

The RA says they checked on the student, who was alive at the point and seemed fine, but reported the concern to a hall manager to keep an eye on the situation while the RA was spending time away from the hall.

The RA received a text the following Wednesday, from a resident reporting a smell coming from the student’s room.

The RA told the hall manager the next day (Thursday), who handled it from there.

The coroners informed Salient that the case was still open, and so a report was not available. However, the RA says they were told by the head of hall that “they had ruled out suicide. So maybe they put it down as accidental death.”

The RA added that the head of hall had said “He just doesn’t seem like the person that would do that to himself.”

However, the RA told Salient that the death wasn’t publicised, that no media reached out to them, and that they “don’t think it would have been escalated to university [communications].”

Despite counselling provided to staff and students in the hall at the time, the RA told Salient how badly the death had affected them, saying “people don’t understand how disruptive it is to your life.”

“I still probably think I have PTSD from that, to be honest.”

“It really fucks you up.”

They said the Head of Hall apologised to them for the lack of training.

When asked whether they think there would have been significant changes to the halls since the death, the RA said that they “really really doubt it”.

If you would like to contact Salient about this, or similar stories, please email editor@salient.org.nz. All emails are anonymous on request.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health you can contact the numbers below:
VUW Counselling – 04 463 5310
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
Outline (LGBTQIA+) – 0800 688 5463
Free call or text 1737 anytime for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Youthline (for youth) – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

If you, or someone you know, having a health problems you can contact the numbers below:
Healthline – 0800 611 116 to talk to a registered nurse
Mauri Ora Student Health – 04-463 5308
Campus Security Office – 0800 842 8888

Call 111 in an emergency

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