A heartbroken family are urging Cumbrian parents to talk to their children about mental health after losing their 19-year-old son to suicide.

It is almost a year since Matt McElhone, of Lowry Hill, Carlisle, took his own life, in October last year.

An inquest at the coroner’s court in Cockermouth yesterday heard that it was an impulsive decision, to try and get away from other problems in his life.

On the eve of World Mental Health Day, his parents say they hope that Matt’s death can help to prevent other young people resorting to suicide.

Following the inquest, Catherine and John Tate have spoken out, saying they want to raise awareness of mental illness and encourage families and groups of friends to talk openly about it.

“I just think it’s a waste of a young life. Matt was intelligent, popular and funny.

“He was a caring, loving person and is badly missed by us all, and especially his little brother,” said Catherine.

She added that at this time of year, when a lot of young people are going off to university, it is particularly important.

“Some of my friends have said that what happened to Matt has given them an opportunity to talk to their own kids about it.

“That’s what we want,” she said.

John stressed that there are not always signs that someone is having suicidal thoughts, as young people - and particularly young men - can have a tendency to bottle things up.

“I don’t think there’s as much of a stigma about mental health now.

“I just want people to talk about it more,” he explained.

Matt grew up in Carlisle, attending Kingmoor primary and Trinity secondary schools, and working at the city’s TK Maxx store.

He lived at home with his parents and younger brother Jack, 11. He also had three older siblings, Ryan, Hayley and Rachael.

He passed his A-levels and got a place at Northumbria University, studying international business.

Matt was in his second year, and was planning to go out to Sweden the following year as part of his course.

The inquest heard that although he was popular and doing well at university, he suffered from anxiety throughout his life.

This was made worse due to a long-term relationship with girlfriend Jordyn McNally, which Assistant Coroner Nicholas Shaw described as “love/hate”.

She told the hearing that they both had their own mental health issues, and although they loved each other, she described it as a “destructive relationship” which neither could end.

Mr Shaw said she had a history of self harm and suicide threats, and Matt felt responsible for her.

This constant fear that something would happen to her aggravated his own anxiety and was one of the factors that led to him taking his own life.

The hearing was also told that he had attended counselling in Newcastle while at university, and had opened up about some of his problems.

He later sought help from his GP in Carlisle, and was seen by the crisis team about 10 days before he died.

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide, saying that there was evidence Matt had planned his own death.

He added: “This has been a heartbreaking case to deal with.

“My thought is that he just couldn’t see a way out, and didn’t feel strong enough to deal with it, so he took this decision.”

During the hearing, tributes were paid to Matt by two of his best friends, Charles Armstrong and Alex Lexa.

Alex said: “He was a kind, funny and supportive best friend.

“I think of him every single day and miss him more than anything.”

Charles added: “He was the kind of person who wanted to help people.

“To save them.”