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Home Canterbury News Article
by Lauren Fruen
The mother of young father Ben Harding, who was found dead in the back garden of his family home, has condemned the support her 21-year-old son received from mental health teams.
The body of former Abbey school pupil Ben was found in The Ridgeway, Boughton, in May last year.
An inquest heard how he was found hanged from a tree.
But coroner Rachel Redman decided he had been drinking so heavily that she could not be sure he intended suicide so recorded an open verdict.
The dad-of-one had made several attempts to take his life before he died.
Now his mother Ruth Jayes has blasted health officials and spoken of her commitment to help other families facing the same feelings of grief and isolation.
The mother-of-five said: "It was the worst feeling I will ever go through.
"If I can stop one other mum from going through what I have been through I would be glad.
"It has been six months now and I am not back on my feet.
"The range of emotions is unbearable. My other children have been great but they have their own grief.
"I found him with my daughter and that image is not something I would wish on anyone.
"That was the hardest thing, seeing him like that.
"I want to get a support group up for other mothers and fathers that are going through this.
"I watched my son spiral out of control and there was nothing in my power I could do, which was torture in itself."
Ruth believes mothers should have increased rights when it comes to their children’s health, no matter what their age.
She said: "I had no authority because Ben was an adult. I knew there was something wrong growing up, his behaviour was different to others.
"But it was so hard for me to get anyone to recognise he had problems. He had tried to kill himself about eight times before.
"As a mother I feel I should have had some say, but because he was an adult I didn’t know what was going on when he went to the doctors.
"I think we should change the law by letting mums take some action to help them. I knew he needed assessment.
"He was 12 years old when I first noticed signs and at 13 I took him to see someone.
"I went up to the hospital six times but he was never taken into hospital. I spoke to the doctor on several occasions. She then offered to help, but it was too little, too late. I feel the system failed.
"The mental health team should have been there for him, or even sectioned him. I felt totally isolated and let down."
But the family remains committed to remembering happier times with Ben as a son, brother and father.
"i feel the system failed. the mental health team should have been there for him, or even sectioned him. i felt totally isolated and let down." – ruth jayesThey are planning a charity skydive in his memory. They have also created a special tribute to him at the spot where he died.
Ruth added: "My daughter and sons are going to do a sky dive and use the sponsorship to help me to set up the support group.
"Ben’s father died at 31. I have lost my son’s father and my son. It has broken us.
"But I have a really close family and Ben has brought us closer together.
"Without my sister, brother and mum’s support I do not think I would have got through it.
"This Christmas was terrible. It was the first time in 21 years I did not have my son with me. It was heartbreaking.
"But we want something positive to come out of all this negative. I want to help other people. I have not got any qualifications but what I do have is real life.
"I feel if my son had been assessed earlier in his life or if I had had some authority Ben might still be here today."
Spokesman for Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust Martin Sawden said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Harding’s family.
"Since Mr Harding’s death we have reviewed the care he received from our services and are satisfied that our staff did everything they could to engage with Mr Harding and to support him.
"We must work within the law regarding confidentiality and can only share information about an individual’s care and treatment with their family if they consent to do so.
"Where family members are formally identified as a carer we offer them an assessment to identify what we can do to support them too."
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