Mother pays tribute to Durham maths student, 21, who killed herself

‘Beautiful and funny’ cheerleader, 21, was found hanged in her room at Durham University

  • Alexandra Wilshaw, 21, found hanged in student room at Durham University 
  • Assistant librarian was in a cheerleading squad and had a boyfriend, Matt
  • She had been treated for anxiety but had not shown signs of depression
  • Inquest heard she was attending counselling and recorded death as suicide

Alexandra Wilshaw, of Bourne, Lincolnshire, was found hanged in her student room

A maths university student who killed herself has been remembered by her family as ‘beautiful and funny’ 18 months after her death.

Alexandra Wilshaw, 21, of Bourne, Lincolnshire, was found hanged in her student room at Durham University before dying soon after in hospital.

The assistant librarian – who was in a cheerleading squad and had a boyfriend, Matt – had been treated for anxiety but had not shown signs of depression.

Neither friends nor relatives thought Miss Wilshaw was suicidal, but she was found hanged in her room before being taken to Durham Hospital and pronounced dead on March 18 last year.

Her mother Carol Fowkes, 51, told Lincolnshire Live: ‘It was 4am when I heard a knock on the door. The police arrived with my ex-husband. They told me that she was in intensive care.’

Ms Fowkes and her ex-husband rushed to the hospital but nothing could be done to save their daughter – her only child – who was declared brain dead. 


Assistant librarian Miss Wilshaw was in a cheerleading squad and had a boyfriend, Matt

Miss Wilshaw was described by her mother Carol Fowkes (pictured together) as ‘beautiful’

The technology audit manager added: ‘She was really vibrant. Really happy – she really did care about people. She did some tutoring in maths to GCSE students.

‘She was in a cheerleading squad. Alexandra was a bubbly and outgoing girl – she was actually quite loud and funny. And she was beautiful.’

Miss Wilshaw’s death was recorded as suicide at an inquest in July 2018, which also heard that she was attending counselling and had tried to kill herself before.

Ms Fowkes added: ‘We never knew there was anything wrong. She used to be perfectly fine when we spoke to her over Facetime. 


Miss Wilshaw’s death at Durham University was recorded as suicide at an inquest in July 2018

Neither friends nor relatives thought Miss Wilshaw was suicidal, but she was found hanged

‘I would ask her if anything was wrong and she would tell me that she was OK – she’d seem happy. You just wouldn’t have known – she kept it all to herself.’

Ms Fowkes has since set up ‘Alexandra’s Awareness Campaign’ with the university, which aims to raise money towards suicide prevention.

Miss Wilshaw was described in a tribute by the university last year as a student who ‘experienced life with beauty and intensity, and she was loved by many’.

For confidential support in the UK call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details   

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