A mother whose daughter took her own life as a result of an abusive relationship has called for mental health support for young people to be updated for the digital age.
Relentless text messaging was a feature of a campaign of bullying by the boyfriend of Emily Drouet prior to her death.
Former public schoolboy Angus Milligan admitted to assaulting the 18-year-old Aberdeen University student last year.
Milligan also threatened and abused her with offensive, indecent, obscene and menacing text messages.
Her family were dismayed when he was spared jail last July, and given a 240-hour community payback order, reduced to 180 hours in recognition of his guilty plea, as well as 12 months’ supervision.
Fiona Drouet says the legal treatment of her daughter’s tormentor shows that the impact of abuse on someone’s mental health is not taken seriously enough.
She is now calling for better support from schools and universities for young people at risk.
Emily had no history of mental health problems, but Mrs Drouet believes chances were missed by university staff to intervene.
Mrs Drouet said: “We have had meetings with Universities Scotland to discuss the fact that front-facing staff have no training.
“Universities are dragging their heels in accepting students can be vulnerable and they are responsible.
“Mental health is always bottom of the agenda, especially in universities.”
Mrs Drouet, along with a group of people supported by Samaritans Scotland, will present a report to the Scottish Government, as it prepares an update of its suicide prevention strategy.
She says that students often are living away from home for the first time, and can be vulnerable to sexual violence, drink and drugs, as well as the pressures of study.
She added: “We need to take action to minimise that vulnerability.
“Young people are facing bullying and abuse online, and text messages bombarding them. This is intense, you can’t escape from it.
“For Emily, it was relentless, he wouldn’t give her a break. It escalated so quickly and she was in denial about it, trying to pacify him.
“Suicide affects a large number of middle-aged men. We need to recognise the effect of life-changing events like domestic abuse, family breakdown, losing your job.
“It is compulsory to have first aid in the workplace, but what about mental health first aid?
“Just because there is no blood, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed.
“We need to make sure places like schools and workplaces are adequately equipped to deal with that.”
The report presented to mental health minister Maureen Watts today (Tues) includes calls for more support for families affected by suicide.
Mrs Drouet added she could only find the help she needed from online groups of parents who had been through similar experiences.
She said: “A death from suicide leaves the people behind with such complex grief. You wonder could you have have done more, could it have been prevented?
“I questioned every decision I ever made in my daughter’s life, like should I have let her go to university at all?”
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