A YOUNG Andover man, who has lost five friends to suicide in under five years, has issued a rallying cry to get more mental health services brought to the town.

Ashley Wright recently appeared on ITV’s Meridian News show to introduce a documentary he created to highlight a lack of support for young people suffering with conditions such as depression.

The 20-year-old was prompted into action following the death of one of his closest friends to suicide.

The former Andover Football Club player claims that his friend was the fifth to have killed themselves since he turned 16.

Mr Wright believes that suicide is "tearing the town apart" and has recently set up a campaign, with the charity Fixers, in an attempt to help support young people with mental health conditions.

He said: “Every time someone takes their own life it devastates the community, their family, their friends.

“After it has happened, we ask ourselves what we could have done differently so that person would still be with us today, but the fact is, nothing has changed in Andover.

“It’s not good enough, it’s tearing the town apart.

“It’s heart breaking to know that these young people haven’t got the support they need and it’s driving them to the stage where they think they haven’t got anything left.”

Mr Wright does not wish to name his friends out of respect to their families but believes he can use his personal experiences to help others in the future.

His main aim is to create a drop-in centre in Andover were people can go to talk to others who have their own experiences with mental health conditions.

He said: “I would like to see somewhere opened in Andover where people can go 24/7 to speak to someone who has had similar problems.

“One of the main problems for young men is that they bottle things up until they don’t know what to do anymore.

“I know from experience that that is the worst thing to do.

“But if you had somewhere were you could speak to someone who knew what it is like and had been through those experiences I think it would really help.”

Since the documentary aired, alongside a section about Mayor of Test Valley councillor Iris Andersen’s own battle with depression, the 20-year-old says he has been inundated with offers of support.

He added: “A lot of people in the local community who have contacted me to save well done that someone at my age is taking on this issue.

“There have been a lot of people who have said how happy they are that someone is doing something about it and have offered to help."

“I think it has definitely had an impact.Cllr Patricia Stallard, executive member for health and public health at Hampshire County Council, said: “Suicide can have a profound effect on family, friends and the local community.

“Through our new suicide prevention strategy, developed with our partners, our aim is to reduce suicide and improve mental health in groups who are more at risk from taking their own life."

“We are working hard to support individuals, groups and communities which includes further understanding what works for young men in particular, as it is in this group we see the highest rates of suicide both locally and nationally.

“Our advice to young people with mental health issues is to talk to someone they trust. There are a number of options available including GPs, Andover Youth Counselling, public health school nurses in schools or colleges, who are trained to help young people with mental health issues, or the local Samaritans on 116 123.

“The County Council and local Clinical Commissioning Groups have also commissioned Andover Mind to run the Andover Wellbeing Centre which is a very important source of advice and support for local people of all ages dealing with mental health issues.”

A council spokesperson has also claimed that the authority are happy to speak with Mr Wright regarding his plans.