'Humiliation' had role in suicide, inquest hears

June 11, 2009

An inquest into the suicide of a senior fashion lecturer at Southampton Solent University heard that his death may in part have been related to his work. Carl Baybut hanged himself in February, a few days after attending a staff meeting to discuss changes to lecturers' responsibilities.

The University and College Union told Southampton Coroner's Court that the 49-year-old's work problems had "contributed in a significant way" to the stress he had endured before killing himself.

The union's representative, Mark Farwell, said Mr Baybut had been absent from work for about six months. He had just returned when the staff meeting took place.

Mr Farwell said the lecturer may have been worried that his teaching duties were set to be withdrawn "without discussion or negotiation".

He said: "From where I sit, that looks like ritualised humiliation because it was done in the public domain among peers.

"I think Carl felt crestfallen when he left the meeting and (that) contributed in a significant way to the stresses he had in his mind in the days to follow."

Coroner Keith Wiseman concluded that Mr Baybut had taken his own life. Summing up, he said that although there were no significant warnings about what Mr Baybut was to do, there were difficulties relating to his workplace.

A Southampton Solent spokeswoman said the lecturer had experienced periods of ill health, during which he was supported by the university's occupational health service. "During his time as a senior lecturer at the university, there were never any indications that he was contemplating ending his own life," she said.

"It is very important to the university that its working environment is positive and productive. To this end, we will continue to look at any issues that require further examination and action, and we will be taking into account the comments made by the coroner."

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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