In­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals stu­dents turn to GOWN AND DE­PRESSED MIND WHAT YOU DO

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Amy Sharpe

STU­DENTS are us­ing the dark web to buy an­tide­pres­sants with­out a pre­scrip­tion to cope with soar­ing stress lev­els, a Sun­day Peo­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals to­day.

Some say they do not want treat­ment be­ing noted on their med­i­cal records. Many be­lieve coun­selling won’t help. Others sim­ply want to avoid doc­tors’ wait­ing lists.

But the stu­dents are risk­ing their lives – and wast­ing their money.

Last week we mon­i­tored Bri­tain’s big­gest stu­dent cha­t­room where some gave each other ad­vice about buy­ing pills il­le­gally.

Then we went on the dark web and soon or­dered the same drugs with no ques­tions asked.

Five days later the pills ar­rived. There were no dosage di­rec­tions or warn­ings about side ef­fects – which can in­clude sui­ci­dal feel­ings.

The on­line trade in an­tide­pres­sants for stu­dents has al­ready proved fa­tal.

David Con­nell, 21, died af­ter tak­ing pills which he bought on the web to beat stress be­fore his fi­nal ex­ams at the Uni­ver­sity of Hull.

The com­puter sci­ence stu­dent was de­scribed as “bril­liant”and head­ing for a first class de­gree but kept his men­tal health is­sues se­cret from ev­ery­one.

The pills he took were ten times stronger than di­azepam – bet­ter known as Val­ium – and he was found dead in the bed­room of his stu­dent house.

Last week, as thou­sands of young peo­ple pre­pared for life away from their fam­i­lies, we mon­i­tored cha­t­rooms at The Stu­dent Room which has at least 1.8 mil­lion users.

Stu­dents re­vealed their fears about iso­la­tion af­ter leav­ing home, work­loads, friend­ships, fu­ture re­sults and job prospects.

One posted: “I sit and cry at least twice a day and I don’t have a rea­son why.

“I’ve looked on­line for treat­ments and have found things like flu­ox­e­tine.

“All of them have side ef­fects but I am will­ing to try any­thing right now. Does EX­PERTS at men­tal health char­ity Mind said they were wor­ried by the find­ings of our in­ves­ti­ga­tion and urged anx­ious stu­dents to get proper med­i­cal help.

Stephen Buck­ley, Head of In­for­ma­tion, told us: “It’s wor­ry­ing that some peo­ple feel they need to use the in­ter­net to get med­i­ca­tion for a men­tal health prob­lem.

“An­tide­pres­sants can be very ef­fec­tive for some but they are not the so­lu­tion for ev­ery­one and usu­ally shouldn’t be of­fered as a first line treat­ment for mild to mod­er­ate de­pres­sion.”

He said: “If you feel like you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health prob­lem, seek help.

“Go to your GP, who can talk you through the sup­port that’s avail­able.

“What peo­ple find help­ful varies from per­son to per­son and what may work for you may be dif­fer­ent from some­one else – whether this is med­i­ca­tion, talk­ing ther­a­pies, mak­ing life­style changes such as tak­ing any­one have any ad­vice on these?” Another said: “I don’t want it be on my record. I can deal with it my­self if I can get an­tide­pres­sants.”

Yet another said: “I don’t want to go the doc­tors for anx­i­ety meds although I’d get them for free. I’d rather buy them on­line. Is it pos­si­ble for me to buy them here and what ones are good?

“Oh Oy yeah and don’t tell me to go to see the doc­tor.”doc­tor. Us­ing down­load down­loaded soft

ware to browse ex­er­cise, or a mix­ture of these, it is im­por­tant to have this dis­cus­sion. “It’s not ad­vis­able to buy any medicine on the in­ter­net un­less you are buy­ing from a reg­is­tered on­line phar­macy. “In the UK, look for the Green Cross logo of the Gen­eral Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Coun­cil and a reg­is­tra­tion num­ber. “Re­mem­ber also that a reg­is­tered on­line phar­macy will not sell you pre­scrip­tiononly medicine un­less you hold a pre­scrip­tion made out in your name from a le­git­i­mateg p pre­scriber,, like your doc­tor.” And he warned: ““Un­for­tu­nately, it is pos­si­ble that uno un­of­fi­cial on­line re­tail­ers will se sell coun­ter­feit medicines of u un­re­li­able qual­ity or dose – or even a to­tally dif­fer­ent medicine to the one you ex­pect.” “It’s also ext ex­tremely con­cern­ing that it may not have the ap­pro­pri­ate pa pack­ag­ing and sup­port­ing leaflets to ex­plain side e ef­fects, medicines tha that you shouldn’t mix it with and a ap­pro­pri­ate d dosages.” the dark web – the global on­line mar­ket where crim­i­nals trade anony­mously – we eas­ily bought 30 Prozac pills for only £25. Prozac, a brand name for flu­ox­e­tine, is usu­ally pre­scribed by GPs to treat de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, panic, ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der and bu­limia. It can af­fect preg­nan­cies, cause, in­som­nia, loss of ap­petite, al­ler­gic at­tacks and even thoughts of self-harm and sui­cide, the NHS warns. Over­doses can cause heart and lung prob­lems an and seizures and long term use can leadlea to depen­dency. But we were asked for no med­i­calmedi in­for­ma­tion and of­fered­of­fer no men­tal health as­sess­men­tasses be­fore buy­ing. FiveFi days later an en­ve­lope with a Royal Mail First Class stamp­stam ar­rived con­tain­ing three packspac of ten of the 20mg pills – –a a typ­i­cal first dose a doc­tor might pre­scribe. There was no box and no in­struc­tions on how many to take or when to take them.

And it con­tained no warn­ing about pos­si­ble side ef­fects.

Un­less a UK web­site of­fers an of­fi­cial con­sul­ta­tion it is il­le­gal to sell drugs on­line with­out a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion.

The deadly dark web mar­ket has sprung up be­cause of ris­ing stress lev­els among Bri­tain’s 500,000 stu­dents.

The num­ber of them re­port­ing men­tal health prob­lems has risen five-fold in only ten years, ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute of Public Pol­icy Re­search.

More than 3,000 uni­ver­sity stu­dents in 2006 re­ported men­tal health is­sues. But last year it was 15,000.

Some 94 per cent of higher ed­u­ca­tion providers re­ported a rise in de­mand for coun­selling in the past five years, and said they ex­pect it to go up in fu­ture.

Coro­ner Pro­fes­sor Paul Marks, who recorded that David Con­nell’s death in 2014 was a re­sult of mis­ad­ven­ture, said at his in­quest: “The pres­sures of stu­dent life are such that peo­ple do be­come anx­ious and can’t see be­yond their fi­nals, which is the cul­mi­na­tion of t heir t hree- year uni­ver­sity course.”

Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the spike in the il­le­gal on­line drug trade is fu­elled by un­der­gradutes who can­not – or will not – get them through their doc­tor.

St a f f a t The Stu­dent Room in­ter-

WORRY: Stephen from Mind PACKED WITH DAN­GER: En­ve­lope with 30 Prozac pills we re­ceived through the post DE­GREE OF FEAR Re­port says stu­dent stress has soared in last decade TRAGEDY: Stu­dent David

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