Man chat support group 'helps to save dad on first day'

Wray Thomson who formed the group Image copyright Wray Thomson
Image caption Scottish comedian Wray Thomson says he wants to make guys realise they can open up.

A support group for men formed less than a week ago claims it's already helped to save a life.

A husband and dad-of-two reportedly reached out to Man Chat Aberdeen on Facebook last Saturday saying he'd been having suicidal thoughts.

The group had been started by Scottish stand-up comedian Wray Thomson just hours earlier.

Wray claims the man felt better after talking about his feelings and has since stayed in touch.

He tells Radio 1 Newsbeat he posted asking for any guys who were "feeling a bit down" to get in touch.

"There's been a lot of outcry here recently because the council's been trying to fix a suicide hotspot which is one of the bridges in Aberdeen and I just didn't think it was enough."

Official NHS figures show the number of suicides in Scotland increased by 15 per cent last year.

"When I saw the statistics come in last week for Scottish suicide rates, I just thought 'you know what? Let's make a sort of preventative group.'

"It always seems to be after the fact that things are done... but preventative care is always better than later on, isn't it?"

Image copyright Wray Thomson
Image caption Wray's group Man Chat Aberdeen already has over 2500 followers on Facebook

And that's exactly what the first person to message the group - described by Wray as "like Alcoholics Anonymous for people who've got mental health problems" - allegedly needed.

"Obviously, it's all about anonymity, so I can't say his name, but he mailed the page saying that he'd been feeling really down and he'd been having suicidal thoughts.

"I asked him straight away 'oh, how recently have you been having these?' and he said 'I was thinking about doing something tonight.'

Wray says he told him to come to their next meeting and that they'd take it from there.

"He then went on to tell me he's got two kids and a wife and I thought it's just insane - that a little message has helped him out this much," he adds.

Wray tells Newsbeat the man has been in touch a lot, and will eventually see his GP about what he's going through.

"I think it was just the initial 'I need help' and I think that's spurred him on - we've been in touch every day.

"He never came to the first meeting last night, but he's definitely getting himself in a better place... I think sometimes for men it's just vocalising it and admitting you've got a problem that's half the battle."

More than 2500 people already like Man Chat Aberdeen on Facebook, despite Wray publishing the group's first post less than seven days ago.

It was initially thought the group would meet weekly, but because so many people want to join, there's set to be two meetings a week.

Image copyright Man Chat Aberdeen
Image caption Man Chat Aberdeen is now holding bi-weekly meetings and has a growing online following

"It just kind of took off! People started saying 'this is great, this is the sort of thing we need'... and then it spiralled and people have been mailing the page constantly for the past week.

"It's become a job effectively - and it just shows how much this has been needed.

"I know there are other groups up and down the country that are similar to this, and I think these are the kind of things that require funding from the government."

The 32-year-old comedian says the next step is applying for charity status and making guys realise they can open up.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with being a strong man, but there's a time and a place for it.

"If things are getting too much, there's nothing wrong with saying 'I need a bit of help here'.

"It's not weakness, although in their own head it might feel like it is - that's what I'm trying to drill into people."

And while the group may have already helped one man, Wray can see it's helping others too.

"One very young man came in looking at his feet and didn't speak much - but left the place buzzing and gave me a big hug.

"If it just makes a difference to one person, it's worth it - it was all worth it."

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