An Aberdeen campaigner hopes male suicide rates will fall after a charity called statistics “deeply concerning”.
The figures also show a male dies by suicide in the north-east every week – and Aberdeen activist Wray Thomson said he hopes that figure will soon fall.
Comedian and former offshore worker Mr Thomson was so dismayed by the number of men taking their own lives he founded Man Chat Aberdeen.
The group launched in June with the aim of removing men’s stigma at sharing feelings and asking for help.
In the last three months, Man Chat Aberdeen has ballooned, with regular meetings, social events and even a music festival taking place in the city.
More than 60 men attended weekly events and another 120 have signed up for support within an online community of several thousand people.
Mr Thomson, 32, said: “The SPHO figures don’t make for good reading and I can see why the Samaritans are concerned.
“I am hopeful the 2019 statistics will be better.
“Even if we reduce the figure by just one, we’ve succeeded, but we’re aiming for much more than that.”
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The dad of two, who asked not to be named, said: “I had just had enough and didn’t want to be here. It seemed like whoever I was speaking to at Man Chat kind of got what I was saying without me having to say it.”
Man Chat Aberdeen also offers support for relatives of those attending. The wife of one man said: “He attended his first meeting and just walked in the door and cried. I have seen his first genuine smile in years.”
According to the SPHO figures, 30 people took their own lives in Aberdeen in 2018 – 26 males and four females.
Twenty men took their own lives in the city in 2017.
Mr Thomson said: “Women tend to be stronger mentally and men tend to hide too much of their emotions, whereas women will talk about them.
“The figures also reflect the tumultuous times we live in. The economy is bad, bills go up but pay doesn’t. Debt is a big factor and so are things like the Bedroom Tax and a fall in benefits.
“It isn’t the NHS’s fault, but sometimes people go to them for help and feel alienated by the long waiting times for therapy. The Scottish Government has tried various programmes – but the difference with Man Chat is we talk to people in a relatable language.
“We make the group meetings social and informal and remove the stigma. There’s a lot of humour.
“People are making friends at the meetings and we have people coming along, aged 15 to 70, who are talking openly about their problems for the first time in their lives.”
The group can also call on a debt consolidation adviser and a grief counsellor.
Mairi Gordon from Samaritans Scotland said: “It is deeply concerning to see that the number of people dying by suicide increased in 2018.
“In Scotland last year, 15 people died by suicide every single week.
“That figure represents a devastating loss for far too many families across the country.
“To save lives we need to work together to address the wide range of factors that can lead people to a point of crisis and distress – from job insecurity, money worries and poor housing to feelings of loneliness and isolation.”
Mr Thomson said the next step for Man Chat Aberdeen is to get charitable status, which will help it access cash and expand to more areas.
He added that GPs are beginning to recommend the group to men in need while they are waiting for therapy.
The group is hosting a social litter pick at Aberdeen Beach at noon on Sunday and a music festival at the Drouthy Laird in Inverurie on September 21.