Who was Daniel Mervis? Champion weightlifter, 23, dies from drug overdose after being clean for 8 months
A coroner has called for Oxford university to amend its policy on drugs after a gifted physics student died from an overdose two years ago. 23-year-old Daniel Mervis from the sprawling, quiet Finchley district of north London, died in October 2019, after battling drug misuse that began while studying at Oxford's St John's College.
A judicial inquiry was told that the college had a twofold policy where they offered help but also warned that taking or dealing drugs would be dealt with severely. A recent report sent to the college, Professor Fiona Wilcox, Senior Coroner at Inner West London, said the university's current policy needed to be overhauled to prevent future deaths of this nature with early intervention.
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Who was Daniel Mervis?
Daniel Mervis, 23, died during an accidental drug overdose just two months after relapsing into addiction after being clean for eight months. The gifted physics student was a vegan and champion weightlifter who made regular social media posts about his diet and fitness routines. His Instagram account describes his being a personal trainer, who leads a vegan lifestyle and where he shares posts about training, meal plans and general fitness.
"Daniel had misused drugs from his teens and this progressed to addiction and IV drug use. His addiction relapsed and remitted and required multiple rehabilitation," read the report sent by Wilcox. It also mentioned that Mervis suffered from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and ADHD.
Mervis suffered a cardiac arrest on October 24, 2019, following drug misuse. He was then resuscitated but self-discharged from the hospital. Sadly, he took more illicit substances and was found deceased in the flat of a known drug dealer, "likely to have been supplied drugs by a person or persons present at the scene". He could not be resuscitated thereafter and was declared dead by the London Ambulance Service.
Daniel's father Hilton Mervis, a partner in a law firm, welcomed the report, saying, "This is the first occasion when a university has been required to take a holistic look at its drug misuse policy," adding that at the heart of this is allowing students to get help for themselves or their friends without automatic sanction. He went on to say that Daniel's battle with drug misuse started at Oxford, and was able to reach a level that impacted his life as a student. "Oxford has no active drugs policy it is entirely reactive. It consists entirely of one paragraph in a student's handbook," he said.
"Addiction is a disease and a mental illness. Early intervention is crucial in order to increase the chances of a successful outcome," Wilcox said, adding that the apparent conflict was between St John's stated policy to deal with students who misuse or supply drugs with utmost severity, and the apparent support those students who suffer from drug addiction are offered. "This conflict may discourage such students to seek help for their addiction out of fear of the consequences, either legal or disciplinary," her report stated.
James Cooper, a personal trainer and Daniel's friend, said on Facebook, according to The Sun, “He was more than just a friend he was a brother to me that I could always talk to and I hope he could do the same." "I will love you forever Daniel and will have a piece of my heart missing that I’ll never get back.”
The report also quoted Mervis' boyfriend, dancer Ethan Jacobs, as saying in an Instagram post, "I miss you everyday..."