An Ardrossan dad who has struggled with depression and recently lost his friend to suicide is starting a new support group for men experiencing mental health issues.

Aware that young males are at a higher risk of suicide than anyone else, Keith Lavelle decided to create A New Hope, a weekly group where men can talk about their feelings in a non-judgmental environment.

Keith is no stranger to the so-called ‘black dog’. The 35-year-old has suffered with severe depression and attempted to take his own life five years ago. He also lost one of his friends to suicide just weeks ago.

But Keith is using his tragic experiences to have a positive influence and is hoping that his new support group in the Whitlees Centre can reach out to men who are feeling hopeless.

He told the Herald: “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I suffer from severe depression myself and my pal took his own life.

“I have been to a dark pit. I’ve tried it [suicide] myself, though I was lucky enough to survive. You don’t think at the time. I can’t even remember leading up to it or for about two weeks after it. It was around my birthday and there’s pictures of me on my birthday and I look at them and don’t remember any of it.

“The way men are raised, how they’re told not to show their emotions, it needs to stop. They’re discouraged to talk about it. Men are told not to cry, to be strong.

“If one person is saved [by the group], then it’s worthwhile. I don’t want anybody to go through what we’ve had to go through.”

A New Hope is aimed at men aged 16 and over and starts on Tuesday, August 20 from 6-8pm. It will then take place every Tuesday thereafter.

If you are experiencing feelings of depression, contact the Samaritans for free on 116123.