Gregg McMaster was a dedicated police officer, a father of two and a loving husband. He had celebrated Christmas and New Year with his family in Ayrshire and everything appeared normal to his wife, Gillian.

But days into 2015, she noticed Gregg was having trouble sleeping, he appeared agitated and was on edge.

“Gregg could sleep for Scotland, so it wasn’t normal at all,” explained Gillian, now 47. “He was getting up in the night, saying he thought he was being investigated by his colleagues. He had done nothing wrong, so I couldn’t understand why he thought this was happening.”

For Gillian, she knew Gregg needed help when he left for work on January 6, but hours later he hadn’t turned up.

Police colleagues found him sitting alone in his car at a golf club in Glasgow, and took him to see his GP.

Gregg told his doctor he couldn’t sleep, was suffering from work-related stress and had thoughts of suicide. His job working in Police Scotland’s Child Protection Unit was challenging, he said, and he was struggling to cope.

He was prescribed Zolpidem – strong sleeping pills which can increase the risk of suicide, according to medical warnings.

Gillian said: “That made him worse. Gregg was whispering and said that the house was going to be raided, and he would go to jail for 30 years. He then told me when he didn’t go to work that day that he had taken himself to the top of a block of flats but was too scared to jump off. He said his car was bugged, and the house was bugged so we couldn’t speak at home. I was scared, and I think I went into shock at that point.”

A member of the Ayrshire mental health crisis team came to their home that night, assessed Gregg and left the couple with a leaflet each, saying medication would be available the following day.

A community psychiatric nurse visited on January 7, but said she couldn’t prescribe any medication and Gregg would have to wait to see a psychiatrist. Notes from the visit, found only after Gregg’s death, stated the risks for him “other than further deterioration in the absence of treatment, was that of suicide”.

The day before his death, Gregg’s paranoia was at its peak. He wasn’t able to finish sentences, was pacing around and couldn’t sit still. He had seen five different medical professionals but despite treatment being discussed, he hadn’t been treated at all. He was still taking Zolpidem, which wasn’t helping, and his family was desperate for help.

His medical notes state he had “delusional disorder with a paranoid flavour” and medics admitted: “Gregg’s insight was limited. He was able to accept our explanation for his experience but was clearly not convinced that it was more likely than his own.”

The doctor’s carefully worded notes on Gregg’s lack of understanding that he was delusional is what angers Gillian the most, she said.

That day a psychiatrist offered him an inpatient bed at a hospital – the chance to get the treatment he urgently needed.

But Gregg declined and, though Gillian tried to persuade him to go into hospital, the couple went home.

Gillian said: “When Gregg was offered a bed, they said that he could ‘come in tonight, tomorrow or whenever suits you’. It wasn’t emphasised that he needed it then and there.

“I couldn’t believe that happened, when they admitted he didn’t fully understand first of all that he was unwell, and secondly what was happening to him. How can someone so acutely unwell be given the decision on when to receive treatment? If you break your leg you don’t get given the option of having it fixed or not, it’s just done.

“He didn’t understand what was happening. The doctor said they didn’t think they could detain Gregg under the Mental Health Act, so he just got sent home with me with no advice, no medication. Nothing. I was having difficulty coping, and I had two young children aged six and four at home.”

Gillian woke on January 9, 2015, to the sound of her garage alarm going off. There was a violent storm outside, and she said the whole atmosphere “was like something out of a horror film”.

She realised Gregg wasn’t in bed, and after searching the house she discovered the garage door was locked from the inside. Police came with a battering ram and knocked the door down, before finding the father-of-two dead.

Gillian was shielded from the sight of her husband’s lifeless body, but it wasn’t enough to stop post-traumatic stress. Even now when there is stormy weather or she hears an alarm go off, or a garage door being opened, she freezes, feels sick, breaks out in a sweat and has difficulty sleeping.

It has taken her four years to have the courage to speak about what happened to her husband. She tried to pursue the health board for medical negligence but her claim failed, and a review into Gregg’s death concluded there were “no recommendations” to be made about the circumstances surrounding his care.

Gillian said: “That is one thing that I can’t understand. How can they say that there is nothing to be learned from what happened to Gregg? It’s as if he died for nothing.

“My kids have lost their dad, our lives aren’t ever going to be the same. It’s hard to deal with that, but for these so-called professionals to decide that they couldn’t have done anything differently, and that nothing can be learned from this? It’s disgraceful.

“I feel that they are more intent on covering their own backs, and not admitting when they have failed, than actually trying to improve things for the next person. There is no transparency in their review process, one internal department reviews another internal department. “This should be done by an independent body to ensure it's transparent and fair.”

Gillian said Gregg’s experience bore striking similarities to that of Karen McKeown, whose partner Luke Henderson took his own life in December 2017.

The couple had tried to get help eight times in the week before his death, and were turned away by no fewer than 11 medics. Karen has now launched a petition with the Scottish Parliament, calling for a mandatory fatal accident inquiry for all those who die by suicide and have had prior engagement with mental health services.

She is also calling for a review of mental health treatment across the NHS to ensure the same practice is happening in all health boards.

The petition, which launched on February 7, has gathered more than 400 signatures to date.

Gillian said: “The similarities between Gregg’s case and Luke’s case were staggering. I can’t help but think if I had spoken up sooner, Luke might still be here. This isn’t one health board or another, the problems are everywhere. Mental illness isn’t properly understood or taken seriously enough, particularly for middle-aged men. It’s the biggest killer of men that age in Scotland, and yet we aren’t seeing improvements.

“The Scottish Government say they are putting money in to mental health, but where? It needs to go in to frontline services, and people who need urgent treatment have to get help immediately. They can’t be given leaflets, or have visits with no outcome.”

John Taylor, associate medical director for mental health at NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: “Every suicide is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go to any family who has experienced this sad and difficult time. However, we are not able to comment on individual patients.

“We have a robust process in place to review all adverse events including any patient who completed suicide to identify any learning and to improve services. These reviews involve meeting with the family to identify any concerns and letting them know the outcome of the review.

"If Mr McMaster’s family would like to discuss their concerns further, I would encourage them to contact me personally."

Anyone affected by suicide or needs help should call Samaritans: 116 123.