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The Suicide of Swansea University Medical Student, Ted Senior

4 min read

This is a story about exclusion...

The house

The police have finished their investigation and the coroner's inquest has happened. Does that mean that those of us who are privy to information which should never have been shared with us can now break cover?

"[Ted Senior] has killed himself"

I got this text message on Monday 12th February. Ted Senior had hanged himself on Saturday 10th February.

I didn't know Ted Senior. I'd been in his bedroom. I might have seen him in passing in his house. I might have seen him in passing in the area of Swansea where he lived.

Somebody sent me that text.

Prior to that, somebody had told me confidential details about what Ted had shared online and the consequential furore after it "went viral" (to quote the tabloid press). Somebody had told me how isolated Ted was; how badly he was being treated at university. Somebody said they'd told him he should go home and see his mum. That's what he did: he went back to the family home, he wrote a suicide note and then he hanged himself.

From what I've read in the newspapers, Ted's family want to know how suicides can be prevented in future. Ted's family are raising money for a foundation in Ted's name that will invest "in projects and forums aimed at preventing a reoccurrence of a similar tragedy". So, I know for a fact that Ted's family want to prevent a reoccurrence of a similar tragedy. I think that gives me a right - an obligation - to speak up about my own suicidal thoughts.

I've written, deleted, censored and edited so much on the subject of Ted Senior's suicide, because I empathise so strongly with what drove Ted to kill himself, yet there are some who believe that it's best to cover-up and gloss over the enormously powerful forces that drove this bright young man to take his own life.

At this stage, there's nothing that I want to add to the sensationalistic tabloid news coverage angle, because I think the media have been reasonably respectful towards a young man who made a simple error of judgement: sharing something online when he believed it would be kept private. But his entire future was jeopardised. A silly mistake looked like it was going to destroy everything he'd ever hoped to achieve: to become a doctor. I can empathise so much with the feeling that his opportunity to have a prestigious qualification, a prestigious job with high social status, a decent salary; the house, the car, the wife, the kids; the respect of society and the life he'd always dreamed of - that was all about to be destroyed. I can empathise.

I didn't want to know any of the inside details of Ted's alleged misdemeanour. I didn't want to get involved. I didn't want the gory confidential details shared with me, but they were. Then things escalated to the point where Ted Senior committed suicide and I've got to process everything on my own. I've got no support network. I've got nobody I can talk to about this. I've got nobody I can confide in. I'm a keeper of secrets that I should never have been entrusted to keep and I don't like it. In fact, I hate it.

I've kept shtum about Ted Senior until the police investigation and the coroner's inquest have been completed - I have nothing valuable to add - but I need to let it be known that I've had to deal with the confidential details of this case all on my own, in isolation, with nobody to talk to. I've maintained confidentiality when others who should have known better have been loose-lipped. I've been the one who's borne the burden of empathising with the plight of Ted Senior for a long time, while also not feeling able to discuss it with a single soul.

It's a lot to bear on one's own.