A TRAUMATISED ambulance worker who struggled to cope with child fatalities in his line of work took his own life after sending a suicide text message to his devastated wife.

Paul Scanlan, 58, from Abingdon, had problems with debt, his health and a strained relationship with his three children, an inquest heard on Wednesday.

He hanged himself at a hidden location near the A34 in Kennington on March 21, while his wife Pam sent him 22 text messages trying desperately to find out if he was all right.

Mrs Scanlan, who wept throughout the inquest, said she would never understand why he chose to die.

She said: "It's been absolutely devastating and I've not only lost my beloved husband, I've lost my best friend.

"I thought we had a really good marriage. We were happy. I'll never understand."

Mr Scanlan worked for South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) at the time – a job he sometimes struggled with as he found it hard to cope with the road traffic accidents he came across.

In 2009 he was diagnosed with depression after visiting the doctor, mentioning he found work difficult.

His wife said there were several incidents, which involved the deaths of children, that traumatised both him and his colleagues.

She said: "Anyone with children would have been traumatised. He was offered counselling but because of shift patterns and being Paul, he just said 'oh no I'll be fine'."

Mr Scanlan was formerly a bank manager who was made redundant after 25 years, which he did not take well. His first marriage broke down, which led to a strained relationship with his three children.

He was not able to attend his daughter's wedding in South Africa due to financial issues, which upset him.

Just hours before his death he went to work his last shift with the ambulance service.His colleagues said they noticed nothing unusual or worrying about his behaviour.

His body was found in the early hours of the morning. His wife notified police of where she thought he could be after using the location app on her phone.

She had sent him 22 text messages and tried to call him countless times after receiving a message from him saying he would be committing suicide.

Assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, Rosamund Rhodes Kemp, told Mr Scanlan's family at the inquest: "This must have been a dreadful occasion for all of you.

"When something has happened so suddenly it must be awful for the family and the person who felt that way.

"Although he seemed perfectly all right, there were clearly issues in his life that were causing him concern. He had obviously thought of a plan and a place where nobody would see him.

"I'm terribly sorry. We had lots of dealings with Paul Scanlan doing paperwork for the coroner's office so it shocked us here as well."

Spokesman for SCAS David Gallagher said: "We take staff welfare and their health and wellbeing very seriously. We have a range of support structures in place in order to ensure that our staff remain resilient in respect of their own health and wellbeing and resilient in continuing to provide an excellent service to our patients."

The support includes standing staff down for a period of time immediately after they have been working at a distressing incident and a 'hot debrief' that allows workers to meet with trained officers in less than 24 hours after an incident to try and rationalise and talk through the situation.