June 11, 2009

'Humiliation' had role in suicide, inquest hears

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 Mr Farwell said the lecturer may have been worried that his teaching duties were set to be withdrawn "without discussion or negotiation".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

From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

Also: 'Humiliation' at Southampton Solent University led Carl Baybut to commit suicide

And: 'Humiliation' at Southampton Solent University led Carl Baybut to commit suicide - quote: '...a survey of members had revealed a “culture of bullying” in some areas of the university...'

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The name of this higher education institution is: Southampton Solent University. Their slogan is: Become part of the Solent success story. No thanks...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

... even though there have been times when I was so ill I was on the verge of collapse...

...they watch in silence

...grinning in the shadows

Workplace bullying can kill

Say NO to workplace bullying

TODAY

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Like the bullied blogger - people leave - because hanging oneself can be the end of the journey for those of us who believe that we are targets of workplace bullying...

...it is a way of ending the pain

...it is a way of ending the humiliation

...the rape that happens

...in public

...the ritual humiliation

...that goes on and on and on

...until in the end

...the only release is death

...for those of us who refuse to leave the jobs we love

Just spend a few minutes thinking about this lecturer and all the other people who are bullied.

...while their colleagues watch in silence

...grinning in the shadows

...playing their bully games

What can you do to prevent this?

UCU?

What are your responsibilities?

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Diana Winstanley, Carl Baybut--and the list goes on, and on.

When will the UK government step in and begin enforcing the Corporate Manslaughter laws that are ON THE BOOKS against Universities whose staff members are bullied by management into committing suicide?

When will UCU begin taking on personal injury suits, wrongful death suits, and other bullying-related legal actions on behalf of members? When will they take these claims on to the very end, instead of pressurizing members into accepting paltry settlements, thereby providing an incentive for employers to continue the cycle of bullying and suicide/murder?

Is UCU not part of the problem, rather than the solution?

Anonymous said...

There's a good post today on the Chronicle's news blog, very widely read in the US:

http://chronicle.com/news/article/6633/mobbing-can-damage-more-than-careers-professors-are-told-at-conference

You might want to link to it for your readers.

Anonymous said...

My experience of UCU was a positive one. I think without them I might have shared the fate of this poor gentleman.

Anonymous said...

It is good to hear that there are some UCU reps with integrity. I wonder whether it was also the culture of the university that enabled the reps to support you...

Aphra Behn

jenny said...

I worked at Solent for 3 years with Carl and he was much loved and respected by his peers and his students, it was always a mystery why the middle management constantly humiliated him. I left Solent after being put on an unsubstantiated disciplinary by the same manager that bullied treated Carl with so little respect. I fought my corner and the disciplinary was dropped to a verbal warning (the minimum possible).
At that point I was quite within my rights to take out a grievance against the manager responsible but Solent offered me a compromise agreement and a fat payoff to go away. After a year of fighting, and like so many others, I just took the offer, Carl stayed on at work.
Before me, since then and currently, Solent constantly deal with this very serious issue with one particular manger in the same way, by burying their heads in the sand and paying out substantial amounts of money, which surely could be put to better use.
At the inquest into Carl’s death Solent’s defence was that they were unaware of the gravity of the situation as no one has ever made a complaint or taken out a grievance against the manager of this department. It’s not rocket science is it? Either, after a long period of humiliation, bullying and harassment you are either too ill, tied or scared to fight anymore and the thought of another year of going through the grievance procedure is too much for people to cope with. It’s NOT that no one has a grievance against this manager, it’s that no employee has the any faith that the correct procedures will be followed at Solent.
The representative also said that Solent were unaware of how serious the problems are in that department and thought that Carl seemed perfectly normal, as the coroner pointed out, the fact that Carl showed no signs of his intention to commit suicide is normal.
I have since received 3 threats of legal action from Solent for speaking out about Carl’s death and been accused of bullying and harassing the manager who we all know is at the centre of this tragedy.
WHEN WILL SOLENT PUT AN END TO THIS MADNESS? ACT NOW!

Anonymous said...

Jenny - thank you so much for speaking out.

If it weren't for this blog I may have taken my life - there were times when the pain was unbearable...

... but I couldn't do that to my family...

... and also the uni would have just dismissed me as unstable...

...I wasn't prepared for that to happen

...so I gritted my teeth and carried on...

...stealing myself

...for the next torture

...the next rape...

..the searing pain

the deafening silence

Tim Field's book explains a lot

about something that I find almost impossible to comprehend how people can do that to someone

In solidarity

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

What about a letter to your MP - if you have one with any integrity?

What about going up to someone in your university whom you feel may be a target of wpb and offering them your support?

What about speaking out?

Why stay silent?

Don't you know that workplace bullying can kill?

Aphra Behn