THE family of a 42-year-old Barrow man who took his own life say they will take his love with them into 2016.

Paul William Graham’s body was found hanged in Abbot’s Wood near Furness Abbey after a battle with depression, an inquest heard.

The hearing was told that the Morrisons produce manager had been having issues at work which had resulted in him being signed off on the sick.

Speaking after the inquest, his younger brother Ian said that nothing could ever prepare you for losing a family member so unexpectedly, adding: “especially one who seemed to everyone from the outside as strong as an ox.”

He added that mental illness was an epidemic in Britain and one the government could not continue to ignore.

The inquest heard how a police search was launched after the Morrisons produce manager went missing from his mum’s home in Longlands Avenue, Barrow, on July 28.

He was found by a police dog and handler, PC Dave Morgan, the following day about 50 metres back from the main path. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cumbria’s deputy coroner Mr Robert Chapman told the hearing that Mr Graham had got a taxi to the abbey the previous day about 1.30pm.

The hearing heard that Mr Graham had been battling depression and struggling at work since April and had to apply for his own job during a restructure.

An incident where he had sat in his car, minus his keys, while drunk on New Year’s Eve, resulted in him being arrested and locked up for 18 hours; and that had also seriously affected him, the inquest heard.

He was signed off work by his doctor and put on anti-depressants and referred himself to First Step for counselling.

He told his GP he didn’t have any suicidal thoughts and had kept a record of his daily feelings.

A statement from his mum, Linda Graham, said he had come to her home and bought two bottles of whisky and was very withdrawn.

He drank one and she hid the other. On the day he disappeared she was out and on her return he had gone. After checking with his partner she called the police and reported him missing.

Mr Chapman concluded at the hearing at Barrow Town Hall last week that Mr Graham had taken his own life.

Ian Graham said: “Christmas is a time where the majority of families take the time to remember those who have been lost and we’re no different.

“Ever since Paul left us it has been a day-to-day process of trying to live a normal life, without him.

“Unknown hurdles crop up, and then there is the anticipation of certain times of the year like Christmas, when most families get together to celebrate.

“Unfortunately of course this year we had to go through an inquest into Paul’s death and then on to Christmas without Paul.

“Since his death the outpouring of love, respect and sympathy has been demonstrated in so many places – friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances, the Evening Mail, Janice Burney from the coroner’s office and even finishing off the working year with a toast at his workplace Christmas party a week ago.

“So I would like to thank you all. We take joy and happiness from the times we spent with him and the memories we have; although it will never replace the real thing, we all search for comfort wherever we can find it.

“The hole in our hearts Paul has left will never leave us but we remain strong in his absence as he would want.

“As a family we take Paul’s love with us into 2016 and with it, we offer compassion to others, especially those in the same situation as us at this time of year.

“Nothing can ever prepare you for losing a parent, son, partner, brother or friend unexpectedly, especially one who seemed to everyone from the outside as strong as an ox.

“Mental illness is an epidemic in this country and one the current government cannot continue to ignore.”

A Morrisons spokesman said: “Mr Graham was a popular colleague and his death came as a shock to his colleagues, who were deeply saddened.

“Our own investigation concluded that the store management supported him at a time of change at the store and they were in the process of working with him to find a role that he felt comfortable in.”