Home London News University work drove happy, caring dad Benjamin Clifford to suicide

University work drove happy, caring dad Benjamin Clifford to suicide

Benjamin Clifford

Benjamin Clifford, 32, of Bexley, described as ‘happy, caring, and an exemplary student’ was awarded a posthumous first class degree. A dad of two, he ended his life shortly after being open about the toll university was taking on his mental health.

Benjamin Clifford studied Computer Science at the University of Greenwich and felt increasingly anxious about managing his workload despite being told he was performing exceptionally well. His family expressed Ben repeatedly assured them that he was not struggling. During this time Ben seperated from his partner of 11 years, Sophie Everitt, with whom he shared two kids, named Noah and Emily.

Sophie said in a statement read by Coroner Dr Julian Morris at London Inner South Coroner’s Court: “He found uni work stressful and needed a lot of time alone to complete coursework. We didn’t spend that much time together as a family which caused strain on the relationship.

Benjamin Clifford
Benjamin aspired to work in Cyber Security after studying at Greenwich //GETTY

“He contacted the university to ask to switch to a less work-heavy course. He was told he was doing exceptionally well and that he would be limiting job opportunities if he did so.”

The University of Greenwich expressed sadness at Benjamin’s passing and responded by proudly honouring him with a posthumous 1st class degree. A spokesperson said the following: “He made some close friends during his time at the University of Greenwich and he is greatly missed. Ben’s marks were exemplary and he will be awarded a posthumous first class degree with honours.

We have extended our wellbeing services to those students who knew Ben and those who were impacted by the sad loss of a member of our community. We extend our sincere condolences to Ben’s family and friends.”

Before the day of his death, Benjamin Clifford spent time with his children at their mother’s aunt’s home before kissing them goodbye. The following day, Sophie received a scheduled text saying: “If you are reading this message, I am dead”. He said the last few months were his lowest times ever and that he could not go on living this way.

At this Bexley home he was found unresponsive with a box of photos, cards, and letters exchanged with his ex-partner. First responders attended his home but he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

His mum, Janet Hawkins said in a statement read by Coroner Dr Julian Morris at London Inner South Coroner’s Court that Ben would ‘always say he was fine’. She said: “He was a happy, loving and caring son, he spent many weekends away with his brother Callum. I just didn’t see how unhappy he was.

When I asked if he was ok, he always said ‘yes’. I even asked him if he wanted to move back in with me [after his break up] but he said ‘no’ and that he was a ‘grown man’. How I wish that I had nagged him more to see a doctor but he always said he was fine.”

Coroner Dr Morris concluded: “It appears from several sources than despite his outward confidence, he had an anxiety. He had found that course stressful, but from course feedback he was very good at it.

To the family members present and the wider family not present, his children, can I pass on my sincere condolences for the loss of Ben. I hope that in completing the inquest, that allows you in some small way to close this chapter and to remember Ben for the better times rather than the worst.

I’m sure that you will help his children in not only understanding but coming to some terms with losing their father at such a young age.”

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