Fun-loving Southsea student to be immortalised by friends

Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

Black Star Riders come under Heavy Fire on their latest tour

  • University of Portsmouth student Calum Downes took his own life in May
  • The 19-year-old had struggled academically, an inquest heard
  • Now his friends have rallied to buy a plaque and raise money to help other students in difficulty
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A UNIVERSITY student hanged himself just days before completing his final second year exam, an inquest has heard.

Calum Downes, a digital media student at the University of Portsmouth, took his life at his home in Percy Road, Southsea, on May 24.

Now friends of the 19-year-old have started a social media campaign to immortalise the ‘kind-hearted’ teen.

Keaton Cohen launched the online effort, which has so far raised £610.

In a message on the crowdfunding page, Keaton wrote: ‘Our aim initially is to raise funds to get a memorial plaque in Calum’s name.

‘We then plan to invest in raising and supporting student wellbeing around the university so students have the support they need if they feel they have no-one to turn to.’

The fundraiser comes as an inquest into Calum’s death concluded yesterday.

The hearing, held at Guildhall, revealed how Calum had struggled academically.

Mum Katherine told the court how she and husband Ian had become worried over their son’s mental state before his death.

‘He was quite a complicated soul, certainly in his later teen years,’ she said.

‘He could be full of fun but he could also have some very low moods as well.

‘We tended to put that down to typical teenage traits.

‘But in the last year or so it became a bit more evident that maybe there was something not quite right.’

Mrs Downes said Calum visited the family home, in Worcester Park, days before his death, for exam revision.

She said he had shown no signs of stress or concern.

After he returned to Southsea, Mrs Downes said she had tried to call him several times but received no answer.

She resorted to messaging his housemates, appealing for them to check on her son.

Calum’s friend Nathan Lee discovered the teen’s body on the morning of May 24.

A post-mortem examination revealed Calum had not died of an overdose and that no alcohol was in his blood.

Assistant Coroner Robert Stone said there was not enough evidence to record a conclusion of suicide. Instead he reached an open verdict.

To donate the appeal, go to: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/CollectForCal