THE DEATH of Aaron Sanson, a young dad with schizophrenia who took his own life in Tuckton Gardens earlier this week has once again raised the issue of mental health care in Dorset.

Following the tragedy, Aaron’s partner, Rebecca Clark, spoke of 24-year-old’s battle with mental illness, saying his death was something she had always feared.

Rebecca, 23, said: "It was always in the back of my mind. He kept himself together for the kids but I could see he was struggling" she said.

"There is not enough support for people with mental illness. He had no point of contact that he could ring when he felt bad.”

Joyce Guest, Healthwatch Dorset Chair said there was a real need for more mental health support, particularly for young men who are at a higher risk of suicide. "For people with mental health problems, not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness," she said.

"This year, World Mental Health Day on October 10 is focusing on young people and Aaron's story shows us how much work still needs to be done."

The county’s health services are currently involved in creating a suicide prevention plan, part of a government initiative to drive down the 5,821 suicides registered in the UK each year.

Health authorities want to reduce fear and stigma in high risk groups, promote mental health and wellbeing widely and reduce the means of suicide at hotspots using risk assessments.

Currently, around 70 people end their lives by suicide every year in Dorset – more than one every week. The county aims to reduce this number by ten per cent by 2021.

But the fact that the vast majority of people who take their own lives in Dorset - around three-quarters - are not in touch with the NHS has been described in a report as a ‘societal failure’.

Dr Andy Mayers of Bournemouth University, a leading figure in mental healthcare policy and reform in Dorset and chair of Dorset Mental Health Alliance said that despite new funding promised by the government, he did not believe there was ‘anywhere near enough’. “A lot of funding that has been supposedly channelled is either not getting to where it needs to be or it simply isn’t doing enough,” he said.

“For instance, if we were talking about mental health education in schools, to allocate £5 million as suggested a short while ago would actually be something like £300 for every school, which wouldn’t be enough to train one person for one day in mental health issues,” he warned.

He believes more money is needed for charities and third sector groups to help identify those with suicidal feelings who aren’t known to the NHS, and then get them the appropriate help. “We need to provide things like mental health first aid,” he said.

*The Samaritans offer 24-hour support for those troubled by suicidal feelings. Call free on 116 123