Tragic family call for better treatment of mental illness

John Edwards, 71, who committed suicide
John Edwards, 71, who committed suicide
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The loved ones of a man who took his own life have called for increased funding into mental health care.

The body of John Edwards, 71, was found drowned in the sea in August, just hours after he left a note for his partner of 30 years that said: “I love you sweetie, forgive me”.

An inquest into Mr Edwards death heard the former British Aerospace engineer also had 10 times the normal concentration of the anti-depressant drug Sertraline in his system at the time of his death.

Blackpool coroner’s court heard Mr Edwards (pictured) had been treated by a consultant psychiatrist in January 2014 but that his health had appeared to be stable for a good period until shortly before his death when he began suffering again with symptoms of anxiety.

He visited a GP who increased his anti-depressant dose and referred him back to a consultant, but he was not considered to be in any immediate danger.

Mr Edwards partner Dorothy Ballentine, of Downham Place, South Shore, said they had been shopping and sat in the garden on the day before his death.

Dorothy added: “He told me he loved me very much and hugged me, then he mowed the lawns.

“We sat and watched some television before he went to bed early saying he was tired.

“I had no clue there was anything untoward at all.

“At one in the morning I heard the floorboards creak and thought he had just got up to go to the toilet.

“But he didn’t come back and after half an hour I called the police.”

Officers attended the house and initiated a search, but around lunchtime the next day, August 9, a member of the public reported seeing a body in the sea, which was later identified as Mr Edwards.

Recording a verdict of suicide, assistant coroner for Blackpool, Claire Doherty, said: “ When police searched the house, they found a card in Dorothy Ballentine’s bag which contained words of affection.

“Mr Edwards had written ‘forgive me’ and had stated that he just couldn’t cope any more.

“It’s impossible to say when exactly he drowned, but I must conclude that sadly, Mr Edwards took his own life.

“It is a sign of how well liked Mr Edwards was that so many people are here today.”

Speaking after the inquest, Dorothy Ballentine, said: “There is not a day goes by without thinking of John and our tragic loss.

“His sudden death reiterates recent calls in the media for greater funding to better understand and educate people in the medical profession about mental illness and provide adequate support for those in need.

“We can’t bring John back but we hope things improve in the future.”

Father-of-three Mr Edwards was born in Horsham in West Sussex and later lived in Liverpool before moving to Blackpool.

His son Gary, 49, said: “My sister and I would like to thank everyone involved in the search for our dad.

“We would also like to thank the member of the public who spotted dad, for his concern in alerting the authorities in such a considerate manner.”