Sheffield Debating Society has remembered the “hardworking, intelligent, incredibly lovely” late Rory Shanahan, a gifted University of Sheffield student who tragically took his own life after suffering severe anxiety over his degree.

Described as having an ‘extremely bright future’, Rory was in his final year studying engineering and computer science and as part of the debate group helped organise public hustings, and represent the University at national competitions.

Speaking to Forge Press, Debating Society President Lucía Arce said: “I was really happy to hear from Rory’s parents that he enjoyed debating, because he was an absolute delight to have on committee.

“Recently, we were allowed to see some notes Rory wrote for some of us (his friends), and although sad, it was somewhat comforting to hear Rory’s thoughts, and to validate he was the kind of person who thought about his friends to the very end.

“I miss him dearly.”

“he was the kind of person who thought about his friends to the very end”

Speaking at the inquest last month, Rory’s parents Mark and Jacquie Shanahan did not blame the University for their son’s death but called for greater focus on the gap between university and wider community NHS support services.

An ‘extremely bright future ahead of him’

Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard that Rory was a ‘perfectionist’ who worried about his degree, leading him to take a year-long break from his course when he worked for the University.

Rory Shanahan was Public Debates Officer on the society’s committee. Picture: Areeb Sherwani

Coroner David Urpeth, recording a conclusion of suicide, described Rory as ‘extremely intelligent’, with an ‘extremely bright future ahead of him’.

Thamira Valentine, a friend and fellow debater, added: “He got so excited when debating that you couldn’t help but be swept along with his excitement. I will certainly miss him, both in debate and as a friend.”

‘In Honour of Rory’

Remembering Rory, Ms Arce added: “Rory was hardworking, intelligent, incredibly lovely, and – once you got past the initial shyness – the owner of a hilariously scathing wit.

“We always chatted about University Challenge as he was the only one of my friends who watched it.

Rory was described as ‘hardworking, intelligent and incredibly lovely’. Picture: Lucía Arce

“We were going to make a fantasy league about it and he thought the final was going be Merton vs. St. John’s – which it was! Clever boy.

“I love people who are always looking for things in the world to be amazed at, and he had that spark about him.”

Daniel Klein, a Training Officer at the society, told Forge: “The last time I saw Rory was when he was acting as Public Debates Officer – he had organised an incredibly well attended and interesting public debate.

“He seemed happy. I will miss him, as a friend and as a fellow committee member.”

Yew Jie, another of his friends, told Forge: “It was a pleasure to know him as a friend, to speak with him as a debater, and to work with him as a colleague. He always had great ideas and put his very best into things he loved. In Honour of Rory.”

Samaritans, a confidential and friendly support network, are there 24/7 to chat with you about what you’re going through on 116 123. All University mental health support services are now in one place – SAMHS. Visit



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