"A New Hope started with my own battle with mental health depression and anxiety.

I’ve had troubles with mental health all my life, I was the outside child, my sister got everything and I got nothing.  

My mum and dad weren’t married, then they had me and, after an argument with me, they divorced.  

We have since reconciled but it's was never the easiest growing up.

I became a care assistant in a nursing home for six years, I also worked in Game in Irvine for nearly 10 years.  

The care side spurred me on, I gained a lot of understanding on mental health from my time there.  

I was helping folk who needed it more than I did, they had advanced dementia or were behaviourally challenged.

I loved that job.

About six years ago I attempted suicide. There was a lot going on at the time.  

Irvine Times:

We moved to a one bedroom flat and we were waiting for a house with the council.  

I had built up resentments for 30 years, I just thought if I wasn’t here things would be better for my wife and my two kids at the time.  

All four of us were sleeping in one room – I just thought this would be the best option.  

I took a lot of pills. I was in hospital for nearly week and in an induced coma for a few days because I had seizures.  

Once I woke up I felt let down by the mental health services. They asked me if I would do it again, at that moment in time the answer was ‘probably not’.  

I was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t think about anything else but the pain, running marathons constantly, my body was sore, my throat was sore – I could only think about walking rather than what I’m going to do when I get out of here.  

I phoned my GP and got some help through them.  

It was definitely a turning point that I would never wish on my worst enemy. The recovery from that was six months before I could walk and eat and talk properly.  

Knowing how everybody was feeling as you were lying on a bed not knowing if I was going to make it through, for those who take their own lives they don’t know the devastation that they leave behind.  

I have been on the other side of it, I survived.  

I have an inside knowledge of what suicide is. It helps with other people who are feeling suicidal. You're talking to someone that’s been there and you can tell them that they are not alone.  

I realised too late, that talking is the best way to get help with a mental health issue. It took a suicide attempt for me to realise that.  

Talking is the best thing you can do, suicide, depression or anxiety - people can’t read your mind - if you talk about it 9 times out 10 they will find a way to solve the problem themselves.  

That’s what A New Hope is, it’s more about supporting people. 

I’ll listen and we’ll see what we can do.  

I can tell people what helped me, it’s about being there as a sounding board.  

My best friend took his own life last year, for me that was when I knew things had to change.

Irvine Times:

I knew he had struggles when he was younger. He pushed everyone away that could help him.  

He would go quiet for ages then just pop up and be normal, I didn’t really expect this to be what it was. It was a real shock. I had no idea he had killed himself until I got a message from someone.  

That’s another reason I want to help people. I feel like I let him down, but people will keep it inside if they want.  

After that I started to spiral and become really depressed again. 

From having the experience of knowing how it feels I knew I was going that way but I needed to do something, I needed to get help somewhere, we were on holiday in Blackpool I knew I just had to keep my emotions in check  

The NHS is stretched, I looked for somewhere I could talk to a group – somewhere for guys to talk openly about their problems, but there was nothing like it. 

I have seen people come to the group who are down, who don’t want to talk, but getting them to talk, giving them the opportunity to talk, you see such a change in them.  

Knowing it’s a safe non-judgemental environment, you see people opening up, you see a physical change.  

There was one guy who, when he left, he was in tears laughing.  

We try to make it a bit of a laugh, laughing is one of the best things you can do for mental health.  

He got his worries off his chest, you know you’ve made a difference to someone  

I’ve saved at least three people’s lives from suicide, it’s a phenomenal feeling.  

It was never about helping hundreds of people. If I could just help one then I’d known I’ve made a difference in someone’s life."

Do you have a story to share? Click here to tell us about it