A COMMUNITY is calling for change to mental health services following the death of a beloved father within a year of his son’s death.

Jason Thompson, known as Jay, died earlier this month after struggling with his mental health – something his loved ones say he repeatedly sought help for.

Mr Thompson’s partner Cath Hugill said people and their families are being let down by the lack of mental health services and restrictions in accessing them.

She said: “We are being encouraged to speak out – but why, when drastic changes need to be made to our mental health system? There are too many people losing their lives unnecessarily which destroys not only lives but families and communities.

“Jay was such a fabulous genuine kind man, he loved his family and was very proud of them, we were just trying to get him through a day at a time. Families are being pushed to breaking point, there is no clarity over the route they must navigate to reach the timely professional help needed and no clear guidance or support to help them care for their loved one.

“This whole process needs reviewing. Services need to be updated and professionals need to provide people and their families with the support they need. Time delays need to be removed and action taken quickly.

“Methods to take your life are too freely available on forums but something needs to be done across all platforms.”

A petition was launched by Mr Thompson's loved ones on Wednesday calling for change.

It has already received more than 1,000 signatures with the number climbing.

The shop fitter’s death came only months after the passing of his son, Zach Melton.

The 30-year-old was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his 20s and had been reported missing on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

His body was found after an extensive search by police, family and friends.

Mr Melton’s sister Chloe Melton, came up with the idea to stage a balloon release in his memory which saw hundreds of well-wishers release blue balloons at the running track next to Woodham Academy, in Newton Aycliffe.

Speaking to The Northern Echo at the time of his death, she said: “Zach was loud and really bubbly and known and liked by everyone in Aycliffe. He was the life and soul of the party and was there for everyone – he saved so many other people who wanted to end their lives.

“We’re trying to fight to raise awareness because suicide needs to stop, we wish Zach knew how much he was loved.”

In a statement posted on the petition site, Ms Hugill said: “It is too late for my loved one. I couldn’t get the help that he needed in time. Changes such as I’m suggesting will not happen overnight, but the clock is ticking and for some there is no time to lose."

To support the petition visit change.org/p/matt-hancock-lack-of-mental-health-support-in-the-uk

Free, confidential help is available from the Samaritans 24 hours a day on 116123.

Alternatively, visit samaritans.org online.