THE FAMILY of a young man who took his own life just hours after announcing he was expecting his first child have told how his daughter has given them the courage to help others struggling to cope.

Motherwell man Paul Gerard Aiton, 23, was found dead at his home on August 5 last year, six months before the birth of his daughter Faith.

The North Lanarkshire Council worker and passionate goalkeeper had no previous history of mental illness or substance misuse which is often associated with those completing suicide.

His partner, Naomi Foster-Aiton, and mum Catherine have now spoken for the first time about his death, and how they are trying to look to the future and help others for his little daughter.

They are backing calls from charity Families and Friends Against Murder and Suicide (FAMS) to have mandatory suicide awareness training introduced into schools across the country, provided to pupils and teachers.

READ MORE: Glasgow suicide prevention support group aims to help men's mental health

The organisation cited the suicides of five young people within two months of one another last year as one of the motives behind the petition, which will close to signatories next week.

Naomi and Catherine have also called on the government to use some of the millions of pounds invested into mental health in recent years on providing support services for families affected by suicide.

Naomi, 27, said she had met her soulmate in Paul Gerard, known as PG to his friends and family.

She said: “He was incredible. He was my best friend, my soulmate. We worked together in the contact centre at North Lanarkshire Council and had worked together for years but had only got together about a year before his death.

“We were due to move into a flat in a couple of weeks’ time and had found out I was pregnant with our baby.

“We were so excited about it, and as it hit three months, we decided to tell everyone. We posted on Facebook about it and we were so happy.

“Hours after that, he was dead.

“It was a high of us announcing we were expecting a baby, and then the crashing low of losing PG, my baby’s dad.

“That was really hard for me to try and process, that I was still in shock that I was pregnant, never mind losing my best pal and my soulmate.

“He was the love of my life. I was always at his house, I worked with him too. It was so hard for me to take.”

Naomi said the last year of her life has been “a complete blur”, with the birth of baby Faith in February, and the loss of PG.

She explained: “On the day he died, I was awake early, and I had been texting him thinking he would text me when he gets up to go to football.

“My mum and dad came up to my room to chap the door. Nobody could get the words out; nobody could say what had happened. I was three months pregnant at the time, I just had no clue. I went to the living room and they told me, I just started screaming.

“Someone just said ‘he’s gone’. After that it’s all a blur. And it’s been like that for the past year really, since. It’s a completely lost year.”

Agenda: Why it is vital to tackle mental health issues early

Naomi said she struggles every day but knows that the only remaining part of PG is in her daughter Faith, which has made her a “super protective mother”.

It is also part of the reason why she is so determined to encourage others to speak out if they need help, as she knows her daughter may be in the same position one day. She said: “Some people can’t come and see her as they find it too hard, as they know that she’s all we have got left of him. I’m probably the most protective mum ever because all that’s left of him is her. I worry all the time about something happening.

“I would hope that as her mum, in future, she would be able to talk to me, but if she can’t I think there needs to be better services for her to go to than there are now.

“That’s why I think the petition is a good idea, and why the issue is so important. I don’t want anything happening to my daughter and I want to make things better for her.”

Naomi explained the hardest part of coping with PG’s death was learning to live without answers.

She explained: “The hardest part of learning to grieve with suicide is not knowing why, because the person who can really answer your questions is the person who has gone.

“That’s what we had to get our heads around … it's learning to live without the answers.

“PG was one of those people who would never have hurt his family, his mum, or me. He wouldn’t ever want to.

“But when you commit suicide, you might be ending your own pain, but you’re passing that pain on to everyone you care about. You are just passing on the pain to them, that’s really all that’s happening. It’s not going away anywhere.”

PG’s mum Catherine Aiton said the pain of losing her son was so severe at some points that she also contemplated taking her life.

She explained that when she reached out for help, she discovered waiting lists and a lack of support for people in her situation, which has given her the motivation to fundraise for charities and campaign for better mental health support.

The 50-year-old from Motherwell said: “The government, I think, needs to invest in more services on the frontline. If it weren’t for charities such as FAMS, or another local one we have called Chris’s House, I don’t actually think I would be here.

“I felt so bad, the pain was just all too much. I went to the doctor to be told there was a six-month waiting list for treatment. What use is that? I needed help right then and nobody was available. The waits are far too long, and that’s if you even qualify.

“It’s absolute nonsense.

“That’s when I found out about these charities and they saved my life. But it shouldn’t be down to them though, it shouldn’t be on charities to help people on their own.”

READ MORE: Top Scottish hospitality company signs up to mental health charity's charter

Catherine said the latest figures on suicide, which showed an overall increase in deaths in Scotland compared to last year, were “no longer a shock” to her, and added: “A year ago I would be stunned, but now I just am not. It’s almost becoming a normal thing. It needs to change, the statistics recently have been horrific. What facilities are available? Hardly anything.

“The Scottish Government needs to realise they have to do more. They can’t just throw money at it, it needs to be properly invested. Taxpayers are not paying for charities, they are paying money towards the NHS but are relying on charities when they need the most support.”

Ahead of the first anniversary of PG’s death, Catherine and Naomi will be taking part in a charity football tournament to raise funds for Chris’s House, one of the organisations which helped them cope.

They hope the event next Saturday at Wishaw Sports Centre will make more people aware of how suicide can affect families, as well as giving others the chance to talk if they need help.

The event has been organised by one of PG’s former football teamS, Motherwell Thistle.

Catherine said: “Personally for me, some things just seem hopeless. But I cope by trying to have things to do, to keep busy. That’s why we wanted to get involved in organising this charity day next week, we have got a focus. It’s hard, so hard, living without my son but we have to keep going.”

View the FAMS petition to the Scottish Government here: