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Tributes to Niall Bays killed by train at crossing in Thanington

The heartbroken family of a student killed by a train say he was “overwhelmed by darkness”.

Niall Bays, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was struck on the Tonford Lane foot crossing in Thanington, Canterbury.

Niall Bays felt like he couldn’t go on, say his family
Niall Bays felt like he couldn’t go on, say his family

Niall’s family say he took his own life and have now launched a fundraising appeal in his memory, raising almost £8,000 for mental health charity Mind in the days after the tragedy.

More importantly they want to help break the stigma surrounding mental health, branding it a “taboo subject”.

On their JustGiving page, they wrote: “On May 4th our son and brother was so overwhelmed by darkness that he felt he couldn’t go on.

"Instead of going to uni he committed suicide. We are now coming to terms with the aftermath of such a huge loss.

“There’s guilt, anger, sadness and above all frustration.

"We didn’t know how awful he was feeling because he couldn’t share it.

Flowers at the scene of the tragedy in Tonford Lane
Flowers at the scene of the tragedy in Tonford Lane

“Mental health is such a taboo subject and this has to stop.

"As a family we need something positive to come out of this and your support for this charity will give us hope and maybe just a little piece of peace.”

Originally from Enfield in north London, Niall was studying at Canterbury Christ Church University.

A spokesman said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of our student, Niall Bays, last week.

“Our thoughts are with Niall’s family, friends and fellow students at this very difficult time.”

Niall was struck on the isolated crossing by a London-bound train at 10am. An inquest into his death is due to open in Ramsgate today.

After the tragedy, the Samaritans in Canterbury appealed for residents to look out for vulnerable people near railway tracks.

Police officers at the Tonford Lane foot crossing
Police officers at the Tonford Lane foot crossing

Geoff Hall, a trustee for the charity, said: “We are aware of this site and work quite closely with Southeastern about having a presence on the railways.

“We are trying to make the public aware about people acting oddly near the railway and are asking them to go and check if they are okay.

“If people seem to be standing on their own or looking into the distance, we would suggest you go and ask how they are, and not make a big fuss.

“Many times the man or woman really wants to talk and people can help get them over that difficult time.

“Unfortunately, the railway seems to be a convenient place for people to make up their mind and do something awful.

“Perhaps people could recommend they give Samaritans a ring, we are there 24 hours a day.”

  • If you would like confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans free on 116 123 at any time, or visit www.samaritans.org
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