A food technology student threw himself under the wheels of a passenger train after an extreme diet he found on the internet caused his health to deteriorate.
Will Mathews, 22, ate only vegetables and fruit after becoming ‘fixated’ with recipes free from carbohydrates and protein he downloaded from a US website.
The Manchester Metropolitan University student, a former pescatarian, began taking health supplements to compensate but he became convinced he had issues with his bones and he started to lose his hair.
Food technology student Will Mathews, 22 – from Stockport, Greater Manchester – threw himself under the wheels of a passenger train after an extreme diet he found on the internet caused his health to deteriorate
Mr Mathews ate only vegetables and fruit after becoming ‘fixated’ with recipes free from carbohydrates and protein he downloaded from a US website
His mental state deteriorated amid fears he was struggling with his degree.
Mr Mathews, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, stepped into a path of the Birmingham to Manchester train as it was travelling through Levenshulme on October 8, 2017.
He suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
An inquest was told Mr Mathews had enjoyed his food as a youngster but his health deteriorated after he enrolled at university.
His father Christopher Mathews told the Manchester inquest: ‘He was clearly struggling with his studies but it was the way he was constantly referring to the problems with his physical illness and his diet.
Mr Mathews, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, stepped into a path of the Birmingham to Manchester train as it was travelling through Levenshulme on October 8 2017
‘You could see he wasn’t looking after himself and was dropping out of the university system. He was always following a very strict diet eating only vegetables and fruit and he had been following this for some time, it started in December 2016.
‘He had this fixation with this diet and it got worse and worse and eventually he was taking supplements and all sorts of things. It appeared this diet was more from the internet and social media and was taking information from American websites.
‘I did ask him where he got all this from, he was quite assertive that he believed this information to be true, but it was from oddball websites and books.
Mr Mathews’s mental state deteriorated amid fears he was struggling with his degree at Manchester Metropolitan University
‘We were very, very concerned about his well being, not so much his mood, more his irrational behaviour, he was sleeping until the afternoon, and when he was talking it was nonsensical.
An inquest was told Mr Mathews had enjoyed his food as a youngster but his health deteriorated after he enrolled at university
‘He believed he had physical problems with his bones and this culminated in a meeting with his GP. The main thing was the diet. I requested a meeting to see if any counselling could be offered but it wasn’t available.
‘I funded private counselling and he attended three sessions, but he wasn’t responding to that and it was stopped.
‘On 29th September 2017 he was admitted to hospital and I met him for lunch and he looked like he had gone insane.
‘He was completely out of reality, he was in his own little bubble. He was completely exhausted he couldn’t focus. He kept saying on many occasions he was going die and that his disease was consuming him physical and mentally.
‘He did say to me occasionally “I have just had enough, I want to end things”, but these were fleeting comments, he didn’t say how or when.’
Mr Mathews’ mother Sylvia Duncan, a nurse said: ‘He was always a very friendly little boy and when he was growing up he really enjoyed his food, and there was one point when I was going to London to see my sister and brother in law when he declared he was going pescatarian.
‘He once told me “I want to make sure everybody’s healthy and I want to open my own enterprise, I want everybody to know about healthy eating”. He was never a fussy eater, he ate everything and enjoyed cooking.
‘He started the pescatarian diet where he cut out just meat, then he started to cut out certain types of food including carbohydrates and protein. He kept saying: “I don’t need protein I have been told I don’t need it”.
‘I noticed he was losing weight, he was having to eat more frequently as he wasn’t taking in anything of substance. He was coming up with arguments from people he met online and he was eating just greens and fruit which he mashed it up.
‘As I am a nurse I understand nutrition but he was telling me people who had written books which he purchased told him to get better you had to deteriorate a little bit first.
Mr Mathews’ (pictured) father Christopher Mathews told the Manchester inquest: ‘He was clearly struggling with his studies but it was the way he was constantly referring to the problems with his physical illness and his diet’
‘I tried to say that it doesn’t make any sense but he was adamant that they knew what they were talking about.
‘I think this diet was linked to his knowledge of food. But I think he accessed the wrong information from Google which sent him in the wrong direction.
‘I remember him coming home and showing me his knees and he said there was something wrong and I said it was because of his weight loss because of the diet he had been following.
The inquest heard Mr Mathews was admitted to the Norbury Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital in September 2017 after further concerns about his mental condition
‘He started to suffer with anxiety and I remember he said he was losing a couple of his dreadlocks. He said he was looking it up online and he said it was because he was following this diet incorrectly.
‘I said it was because of the diet but he said he had spoken to some woman in America and she told him it was because he wasn’t following this diet correctly. He said he was worried if he didn’t get back on track something was going to happen.
‘His GP referred him to the early intervention team and prescribed anti anxiety medication and sleep medication.’
The inquest heard Mr Mathews was admitted to the Norbury Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital in September 2017 after further concerns about his mental condition.
He died after buying supplements from a Holland and Barrrett store during a period of leave.
Leanne Callan of British Transport Police said: ‘Officers attended the ward at Stepping Hill and recovered a laptop and sent it to the high tech crime unit in London. I am aware the family did have concerns regarding access to websites and the dark web and things like that.
‘The interrogation unit were asked to check if William had been accessing any dark web material but there was no such usage of the dark web.
‘They were able to access a number of word documents. There were three documents of interest, one called “final note”, one called “suicide note” and a third called “the way”. All were created on various dates in September, the last document was “the way”, which was modified on 04/10 at 9.23am.
‘These were the three documents which were deemed to be critical in the investigation.
‘From the evidence on the CCTV and the train driver’s statement, we believe that William deliberately entered the tracks on his own, there was no third party involvement, and deliberately placed himself in front of the train.’
For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to the website www.samaritans.org