Gifted Oxford University college student, 23, died from drug overdose as friends pay tribute to champion weightlifter
A TALENTED Oxford University student who died after a battle with drug addiction has been praised by friends as the “smartest, kindest person”.
Daniel Mervis, 23, died during an accidental drug overdose just two months after relapsing into addiction after eight months clean.
The gifted physics student had struggled with addiction, along with mental health issues including anxiety and depression, said his family.
Daniel, a vegan champion weightlifter who regularly posted on social media about his diet and fitness routines, was described by friends as “ambitious”, “determined” and “inspiring”.
James Cooper, a personal trainer and Daniel's friend, wrote on Facebook: “Daniel was the smartest, kindest person I have ever known.
“He was more than just a friend he was a brother to me that I could always talk to and I hope he could do the same.
“I will love you forever Daniel and will have a piece of my heart missing that I’ll never get back.”
Daniel was the smartest, kindest person I have ever known
His boyfriend, dancer Ethan Jacobs, wrote on Instagram: "I miss you everyday”.
The former student at Oxford University’s St John’s College, who was from Finchley in north London, died in October 2019.
He had started studying at the top university in October 2014, after achieving a score putting him in the top five percent of all students admitted to the college.
Following a battle with addiction, he left the university and after attempting to rejoin a year later, took a break to focus on addiction.
After being sober for eight months, he switched in September 2019 to University College London but relapsed and died on 25 October 2019.
An inquest heard Daniel had misused substances from his teens and progressed to addiction and injecting drugs.
Daniel went into hospital on 24 October 2019 following an overdose. When he was resuscitated, he discharged himself from hospital and went to a drug dealer's home to take more drugs, the coroner found.
The London Ambulance Service attempted to revive the 23-year-old, but he died just after 4am on 25 October.
Now the coroner has called for Oxford University to overhaul its drugs policy after the gifted student’s death.
Senior Coroner at Inner West London, Professor Fiona Wilcox, believes deaths could be prevented with early intervention if the university axes automatic sanctions for drug use so more students come forward for help.
Daniel’s dad Hilton Mervis said: “The scale and impact of drug misuse and addiction in those failing to complete the university degrees or dying will never be known until there is a more open and honest dialogue within universities.
“Addiction is a disease and mental health issue, and early intervention is crucial in increasing the chances of a successful outcome.”
A spokesperson from St John's College confirmed Daniel Mervis was a student at St John's College but "left without completing his degree".
"We were greatly shocked and saddened at the news of Mr Mervis' death," they said.
"Comprehensive support provisions are available to all students who may benefit from help with drugs or other medical and welfare problems…such comprehensive provision was prevalent at the time Daniel Mervis was an undergraduate."
Addiction support – you are not alone
Addiction is often linked to mental health problems. If you have an addiction problem, there is help out there for you:
Supports people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems, and their friends and family.
Information and support for friends and family of people with drug or alcohol problems.
0300 123 6600
Confidential advice and information about drugs, their effects and the law.
0300 999 1212
Support for anyone who wants to stop using drugs.
020 7324 2989
National charity giving free and confidential advice about drugs and the law.
User-led organisation that provides information and advocacy for people accessing treatment for drug and alcohol problems.
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