Mum blasts mental health teams after young son was found hanged
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
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
"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."
Ben Hardings's mum Ruth
Jayes with the memorial to her son in her garden
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
"But it was so hard for me to get anyone to recognise he had
problems. He had tried to kill himself about eight times
"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
"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
"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 Jayes
They 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
"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
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