Image: Wikimedia Commons/Rafa Esteve
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Rafa Esteve

Cambridge University student died after a drug overdose

Keshava Iyengar, a 20-year-old Natural Sciences student, was “found unresponsive” on 31 March 2021 in his friend’s dorm room in Cambridge.

Pathologist Dr Sarah Aitken stated that Iyengar died because of “alprazolam toxicity”, also known as Xanax. Iyengar had been using Xanax to help with his anxiety, which intensified following “a parking incident involving the police.” He also experienced some difficulties with his studies.

Hetty Ruane, the friend whose room Iyengar overdosed in, issued a statement regarding the day of the incident. She said Iyengar came to her room at 21.30 GMT. According to her, he seemed “out of it”. They then took some tablets together and drank “half a litre” of vodka. Iyengar admitted to Ruane that he took “four or five” pills earlier that day and “a couple more” later.

Ruane said that he was on her floor snoring at 07:00am the following morning, just before she went to bed. When she woke up at 4:00pm, she was unable to wake Iyengar up and called an ambulance.

A bruise and a small cut on the back of his head were later discovered, resulting from an accidental fall in the room. The injury did not cause Iyengar’s death, according to the coroner. 

He was a very positive influence [and] a really valued friend to a lot of people

– Harry Whelan


There was evidence to conclude the student’s overdose was an accident, and he did not intend to take his own life.

Iyengar’s friend and a fellow Cambridge student, Harry Whelan, said his friend was “one of the best social butterflies” and a “glue guy who brought a lot of people together”.

Moreover, he told the hearing: “He was a very positive influence [and] a really valued friend to a lot of people”. 

Cambridge’s Trinity College told the university newspaper, Varsity: “It was with great sadness that the Trinity community came together at the time of his death to pay tribute to Kesh Iyengar, a talented and popular student who was studying Natural Sciences.

“The College’s thoughts have been with his family and friends through this difficult time, and we continue to provide support to those members of [the] College understandably affected by his death.”

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