THE mother of a veteran who died by suicide has said she is raising awareness of mental health a year after her son's death.

Southampton 'well-loved' tattoo artist Sam Parkinson died by suicide on March 19 last year.

The Royal Marine veteran had an 'infectious personality' and was only 26 when he died.

Now his mum Susan has opened up about the impact of losing her son. 

The 57-year-old told the Daily Echo: "Life without him has been extremely difficult and it feels so strange.

"I was extremely close to my son and could talk about anything with him."

Daily Echo:

Before his death, Sam had worked as an artist at Ink Tattoo on Leighton Avenue in Shirley and as a security guard at The Edge Nightclub in Southampton.

Susan is now on a mission to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and help others who are struggling with depression and loneliness. 

She said: "During Covid lockdown, Sam was not only struggling financially but also mentally. 

"It wasn't his first attempt, but unfortunately for me, this attempt was successful."

Daily Echo: Sam Parkingson.

To keep her son's memory alive and help others, Susan is teaming up with Sam's friend, Jack Elliott, also a former veteran, to raise money for Rock 2 Recovery, a charity that supports people in the armed forces.

Jack, from Derbyshire, will be running 177 miles. This is the distance from his home to Sam's home in Southampton in one week.

Meanwhile, Susan will be swimming two miles every day. Daily Echo:

She said: "We are doing this in support of my son and to help other people who are struggling with mental health."

READ MORE: Tributes for 'beautiful' Southampton man Sam Parkinson

This is not the first time Jack has gone the 'extra mile' for his friend. Last year he ran the same distance and raised £6,000 for Road 2 Recovery. 

When asked how she felt about Jack's efforts, Susan said: "I think what he is doing is just wonderful. 

"Jack feels guilty that he couldn't be there for Sam when he needed him the most. But I believe in him, and he is quite a magnificent man." 

Jack will finish his run in Victoria Country Park in Netley on Saturday, April 30 at around 2.30 pm.

To celebrate Jack's efforts, Susan is calling on other residents to join her and cheer for him. 

She said: "It is going to be a monumental moment. 

"I hope everyone can join me and welcome Jack to Southampton and cheer him on."

Call Samaritans on 116 123.

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