Port Meadow death confirmed as suicide

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An inquest has officially confirmed that the death of student Andrew Kirkman last December was an act of suicide.

Andrew, who studied Physics and Philosophy at Balliol, died after inhaling poisonous gas in his tent on Port Meadow. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Andrew had left two notes outside his tent, the inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court heard last Thursday. 

The first read: ‘For the police, this is a suicide attempt.’ The other warned: ‘You should not open this tent without protective gear’. 

Andrew’s body was discovered after reports of a strong smell of chemicals on the field. Six people were medically assessed after the police had sealed off the area.

Hydrogen sulphide was indicated as the gas used by the Police Superintendent at the scene. It is not known from where the chemicals were obtained.

The inquest also revealed that Andrew had approached a university chaplain with feelings of depression.

Further, it notes he had been prescribed anti-depressants by his GP.

A memorial service held at Balliol attracted over 250 mourners, which his mother called “a testament to how many lives he touched.”

“Andrew was an amazing young man. He spent an inordinate amount of time assisting others and was a force for good in every community he was involved in”, she added.

Sir Drummond Bone, Master of Balliol, also paid tribute: “the College has been deeply saddened by Andrew’s tragic death last December. We saw how deeply he was loved and valued at a college memorial service for him, attended by his family and many of his friends.”

“Andrew was a friendly, thoughtful and kind young man who is very much missed and our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with his family”, he said. 

Andrew’s death was met with disbelief amongst friends from his home county of Middlesex. 

“Andrew was so, so passionate about physics that it wouldn’t surprise me if he was conducting an experiment with some chemicals and something just got out of hand”, a school friend told The Daily Mail back in December.

“He is genuinely the most talented person I’ve ever met”, tweeted Lauren Bowyer.

There is support available at Oxford for students affected by issues affected by issues raised in this article.

The Oxford University Counselling Service offers a variety of services, including 1-2-1 counselling, and can be contacted on [email protected]

Students can also call the Oxford Nightline on 01865 (2)70270, a helpline run by Oxford students 8pm-8am, 0th to 9th week. The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 08457 909090.