A PROMISING medical student fell to her death from a balcony in John Lewis after struggling with an eating disorder and depression, an inquest heard.

Hannah Bharaj, 20, of Waterslea Road in Bolton, died of ‘catastrophic’ injuries after the fall inside the department store in Cheadle in July, 2018.

Her parents, Harry and Sarah Bharaj, spoke of their desperation as they rushed to try and help her.

Giving evidence at Manchester South Coroners Court, Mr Bharaj said: “I virtually was about to grab her. I watched as she fell, I couldn’t do anything.

"I was screaming for someone to call an ambulance. By the time we got to the hospital we knew that there was no hope.”

The inquest heard Ms Bharaj was “caring” and a “high achiever” during her years at Manchester Girls’ School.

She was aiming to fulfil her dreams of going to medical school, but her high standards and “perfectionist” personality often paved the way for mental difficulties.

Mr Bharaj said Ms Bharaj demanded As and A*s of herself, saying: “She would consider herself a failure if she got a B.”

Difficulties began when Ms Bharaj was rejected from medical school and left without the future she had planned. Although she was granted a last minute place at Birmingham University, the young woman suffered another blow as her beloved grandfather died just before she was due to go.

Mrs Bharaj said: “I think the bereavement had a massive effect on her.”

Although Ms Bharaj immersed herself in her studies and life at university, her mental health began deteriorating as she “shelved her grief”, became anxious about passing her exams and did not share much with her parents, according to Dr Jessica Morgan - a consultant at the eating disorder unit she was later admitted to for six months.

The young woman began exercising obsessively in private at the end of her first year at university.

She rapidly began losing weight, restricting her eating over the summer break to 500 calories a day.

Her weight plummeted, but the student would become upset when her parents challenged the problem.

Ms Bharaj’s mental health only worsened as extreme suicidal thoughts were revealed during the first few months of her second year at university in 2017.

Ms Bharaj’s parents rushed down to Birmingham after receiving a poem from their daughter contemplating suicide and self harm.

By November 2017, the student was being admitted to a specialist eating disorder unit. Ms Bharaj made some progress, sharing that she had struggled with grief and accepting some treatment.

Dr Morgan said: “In my view she had prolonged grief reaction on top of - severe depressive episode, as well as the anorexia nervosa.

“When she returned home for Christmas during her first year at university, it really hit her that her grandfather wasn’t there and then gradually developed a depressive illness.”

A little progress was made but Ms Bharaj fell back into suicidal thoughts after she was released from the unit in early 2018 and the family suffered another unexpected loss.

After an attempt on her life Ms Bharaj was admitted to a psychiatric unit at The Priory in Cheadle.

It was on an evening trip out of the ward with her parents to the nearby John Lewis coffee shop when Ms Bharaj fell from the balcony.

Ms Bharaj’s mother said: “There were only two or three people in the coffee shop because it was the end of the day.

“I had my crossword book with me and Hannah had a book.

“It was a curved table, I was boxed in.

“She said she wanted another drink, which wasn’t unusual. But she said she’d get a mocha which was unusual because would never have something with calories in it.

“I gave her £5 and when she stood up something fell out of her book. It was a card addressed to mum and dad - that made me concerned because we’d had one of these cards before.

“She just went off to get the drink. I knew as soon as she was walking that she was going for the balcony.”

The inquest, which is expected to last four days, continues.