Around 50 new people battling suicidal thoughts are seeking help every week from an Aberdeen-based men’s mental health group.
Before lockdown, that figure stood at just two or three new individuals per week, says Wray Thomson, founder of Man Chat.
Wray, himself a suicide-attempt survivor, said a total of around 850 people had contacted the organisation last month for all sorts of mental health reasons.
It’s a huge jump compared to the 200 males his group supported in the average month pre-lockdown.
Wray said: “The main thing people are coming to us about is relationships.
“People are stuck together for a long time, they are arguing, there’s been an increase in domestic abuse.
“Money issues are also a huge thing. We’ve been directing a lot of people to foodbanks.
“And anxiety – people don’t want to leave the house because they’re worried about the virus but they’re also desperate to get out.
“It’s very confusing and the confusion is going to increase as we go through these various stages of lifting lockdown.”
As well as peer support from people who have been through similar experiences, Man Chat also signposts people to various services.
The group has seen its most significant increase in referrals to GPs for suicidal thoughts during the lockdown period.
Wray said: “It’s good that they are speaking out, because the higher numbers that are coming to us, the lower the possibility of them ending up dead.
“It’s difficult to know whether that’s an increase in people experiencing suicidal thoughts or an increase in people having the courage to speak about it.
“But the terrifying thing is that, before lockdown, we only had two or three guys coming to us per week saying they were having suicidal thoughts – last week we had 40-50.”
Man Chat was holding weekly meet-ups to provide a support network for its members prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, all its support is now done on social media or on the phone on a one-to-one basis.
Support workers help individuals create a plan for the immediate future, such as meeting a doctor one day then going for a walk the next.
Wray said: “Committing to doing something is like saying they are going to be living next week.
“Without having a plan we’re all in limbo with nothing to look forward to and then we get stuck in a box.
“The problem right now is that we can make a plan for tomorrow, but what about next week when nothing has changed and that fear of the future is still the same.”
Wray said fear of the unknown surrounding work situations, company closures and financial issues are weighing heavily on many people’s minds.
He said it crosses over into a mental health issue when it is all you can think about or when suicidal thoughts consume the majority of your thoughts or you start planning suicidal actions.
Wray added: “People ask me if it’s just attention seeking and yes it is but they need it.
“They need someone to say they are okay so it’s good if they are attention seeking because if they don’t address it then it will only get worse.”