'It's an epidemic': Men's Talk Club launched in Bristol as 39 from the West Country die by suicide every month

A film-maker from Bristol has co-founded a 'Talk Club' for men in a bid to encourage them to chat more openly about their mental health.

Ben Akers helped set up the group at Bristol Beer Factory on North Street after releasing a documentary to raise awareness of male suicide.

The film was inspired by Ben's own experience, after he lost his childhood best friend to suicide at the age of 38.

39

Average number of men from the West Country that took their lives in the first nine months of 2019.

Source: Latest ONS figures.

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The idea behind the group was to get men together in an environment they feel comfortable in. Credit: ITV West Country

Working with Ben to establish Talk Club across the region is a group of men who also want to eradicate the stigma surrounding them and their inability to open up about their problems.

Gavin Thorpe, one of the founders of the group, described the problem of male suicide as an "epidemic".

There are men taking their lives every two hours and so, for us, we wanna talk about it, we need to talk about it. It's there. It's happening around us. So I think men are talking more, but they are also taking their lives more... Talk club's a great way of coming here and talking about your feelings.

Gavin Thorpe, Talk Club co-founder
All of the conversations had in the group are confidential. Credit: ITV West Country

According to the charity Samaritans, middle-aged men are one of the most high-risk groups for suicide - they are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.

Ben, Gavin and the other founders of Talk Club hope to normalise the conversation around mental health to prevent these numbers from rising.

To find out more about Talk Club, or discover how to set up your own, visit the website.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there are plenty of places you can go to for support and advice: