A grieving mother is raising awareness of post-natal depression in men after her former husband killed himself.
University researcher John Clayton, 41, took his own life in November 2016.
His ex-wife Vicky Clayton, 38, said he had struggled to get the help he needed when his mental health suffered following the birth of their son Hugo in 2013.
Clayton said she realised her husband was suffering from postnatal depression after they moved from Exeter to Cardiff.
She said: ‘The culmination of being a father was a very big thing for John.
‘It’s often overlooked that men also suffer from post-natal depression.
‘Everything is very much focused on mothers, as you would expect, but having lived my life the way I have over the last five years, I wish there was a lot more pointers for men to access help.
‘It was a very difficult situation. Hugo was eight weeks old when we moved to Cardiff so John could study animal geographies at Cardiff University.
‘We left our entire support network behind and didn’t know anybody in Cardiff. John was very up and down and it was probably about nine months after our son’s birth that the cracks really started to show.
‘John saw his doctor, was on the right medication and was seeing a counsellor. Luckily, he accessed one through the university otherwise he would have been on a six-month waiting list for a NHS counsellor.’
The couple’s marriage didn’t last and Mrs Clayton moved back to Exeter, although they remained good friends and spoke daily.
Clayton, who also suffered from postnatal depression after Hugo’s birth, said: ‘For almost a decade of my life, John was my best friend and co-parent of my child. I felt hurt and angry, but also desperately sad knowing there was nothing I could have done to help or stop it. He had once said he felt suicidal but said he was not going to kill himself, and I never thought he would.’
Clayton added: ‘His last doctor’s appointment was three weeks before his suicide and he said he was in great spirits and was presenting to the world that everything was okay.
‘He even threw a huge party the weekend before he died. I will never know if that was a goodbye party or if he was genuinely happy when he did it.’
Clayton said she would like to see more support and services aimed specifically at men. ‘It needs to be much more of a community thing so that men can open up to friends, in workplaces and in social areas where men frequently go,’ she added. ‘It’s important guys look after guys. Life is difficult and stressful and we all live in our own little bubbles, but it’s about visibility and not being ashamed to say you have mental health problems.’
The Samaritans’ most recent suicide report revealed that in 2015 there were 6,188 suicides in the UK. The highest rate was for men aged 40 to 44.