THE devastated family of a popular businessman who took his own life have spoken of the ‘immense grief’ left by suicide as they urge people to seek support.

An inquest held in Northallerton on Thursday heard that poultry farmer James Potter - well-known for co-owning James Potter eggs in Thirsk - took his own life at his home in Littlethorpe, near Ripon, after becoming ‘overwhelmed’ with stresses.

The inquest heard that Mr Potter, 44, was going through an 'acrimonious' divorce and was missing his two young daughters.

A note found on him at the time of his death on October 3, 2019 referenced how much he wanted to see his girls and how much he loved them.

The inquest heard that Mr Potter had sought help via his GP, counsellor and a mental health crisis team in the weeks before his death and was taking medication for depression and anxiety.

However, North Yorkshire coroner Richard Watson said it was clear that ‘the pressures became overwhelming’ and concluded death by suicide.

Following the verdict, a family statement read by Mr Watson described how Mr Potter’s mental health deteriorated after the breakdown of his marriage and the restricted access to his children.

It added: “As a family, we do not want anyone else to endure the pain James suffered and the immense grief we all feel now.”

Mr Potter’s sister Becky Robertson said his loss was a ‘huge shock’ for the family who were supporting him through his troubles.

She described him ‘a character’ with a great love of the outdoors and sports, which included him playing first team rugby for Ripon for ten-years.

The Northern Echo:

James Potter was a keen sportsman and fitness enthusiast

He also helped raise £80,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance via the family business which he ran with his brother Adrian.

Ms Robertson said: “James was full of life, he was a character.

"He just knew everybody and was really friendly; he could go into any place on his own, meet people and be chatting away.”

Ms Robertson said that the family wanted to raise awareness of the problems faced by Mr Potter in a bid to encourage others to seek support.

She said: “He was quite open, he would speak to us about being depressed and he did seek help.

“At the time he died he had a lot of things booked in, he was going on some mindfulness courses, he was booked to go to Japan for the world rugby, so whilst we knew he was depressed, it was a shock.”

She added: “I did believe things were going to get better.

“Anything James was going through would have improved, it just would have taken time.

“It is difficult because when he was struggling, he did speak to people, but I just want to raise awareness.

“We should all just check in on our friends, if someone rings, answer the phone - especially at the moment, with Covid, there are a lot of people struggling.

“I have been contacted by a lot of people who are in a similar situation to James and it is very difficult to know what to say, other than please just don’t think of it (suicide) as an answer.”