Research by the Coroners Prevention Unit in the Australian state of Victoria has found that 47 international students committed suicide in Australia between 2009-2019.

The research was requested by Victorian coroner Audrey Jamieson when inquiring into the suicide of Vietnamese international student Nguyen Le, who died in December 2018 when he fell from a building at Melbourne University.

Of the 47 international student suicides the research found that:

  • 70% were male
  • the majority – 63.8% – were aged under 24 years
  • more studied at university – 70.2% – rather than TAFE (10.6%) or another registered training organisation (4.3%)

The research also found consistent themes across all of the international student suicides, including:

  • educational and/or financial stress
  • homesickness and isolation, and
  • difficulties in accessing mental health support.

The death of Nguyen Pham Dinh Le

On 13 January 2021, Victorian Coroner Audrey Jamieson released her report on the death of international student Nguyen Pham Dinh Le. She found that he took his own life by jumping from the Redmond Barry building on the University of Melbourne campus on 12 December 2018.

international student suicides

At the time of his death, Nguyen, a Vietnamese international student, was 21 years old.

Between 7:30am and 8:00am on 12 December he entered the Redmond Barry Building on the University of Melbourne campus and went to the tenth floor. He removed a screw to open a window, moved a chair towards the opened window, and then removed his shoes.

At about 8:40am he jumped. CCTV footage captured his fall. Members of the public tried to help Nguyen and called emergency services. A defibrillator was used but the machine indicated that he had no shockable cardiac rhythm. Paramedics confirmed that Nguyen died at the scene.

In 2017, Nguyen enrolled in a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. His elder brother by 5 years, Thinh Le, also attended
the University of Melbourne, studying a PHD in Commerce on a full scholarship.

Nguyen’s father said that his younger son had never given any indication of poor mental health. He was fit and healthy and had never seen a doctor in Australia.

Learn about mental health

International students face significant mental health challenges.

Learn about mental health and how to get help if you need it. Take the FREE Mental Health for International Students course.

It could save your life.

Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash