Release Ayrshire, an online platform set up to provide confidential support and advice to men who are in crisis or simply need to talk, is encouraging males across Ayrshire to speak out during suicide prevention awareness week.

National Suicide Prevention Week takes place from Sunday, September 6 until Saturday, September 12.

To mark it, Release Ayrshire is re-releasing a number of promotional videos which give voice to issues that may affect male mental health.

The video confronts the many complexities of mental health and shows how males of any age may succumb to the pressures of everyday life if they do not open up and talk about how they feel.

Robbie Muir, 31, from Auchinleck, is the founder of Release Ayrshire and assures that anyone who reaches out will be treated with compassion.

Robbie said: “We’ve been up and running two years come October – we set up basically due to a spate of suicides in the Cumnock area in the summer of that year.

“I thought there had to be somewhere where guys could go to have a blether and talk about their feelings. The main thing is that they don’t know who they’re talking to.

“We are based in Ayrshire but if anyone further afield is struggling and sends us a message, they’re not going to get turned away.”

Release Ayrshire has a mix of online and ground volunteers – named ‘Friends of Release’ – who are the backbone of the service.

The team have recently launched a new website where users can find useful links to support groups, sponsorship request forms and a Facebook chat bubble where they can speak directly to a volunteer.

Robbie continued: “We are not a counselling service but all our online volunteers are adequately trained. They are there for a blether and to signpost people on to other organisations if need be.

Cumnock Chronicle:

“I’d describe it as a first step chatting platform. It’s a place to make that first step to get help by chatting about your problems first and foremost. All our volunteers are anonymous.

“Mental health can affect men at any age. That’s why our promotional video starts from kids in nursery right through to elderly adults in their 70s/80s like the man who has lost his wife and feels isolated.

“When people think of mental health they automatically think of suicide, but it’s not that. There’s so much that can affect your mental health.”

Robbie’s key message is to regularly check in on friends – and yourself.

He said: “Even a wee text asking if your friend or family member is alright could make world of difference. Some people are struggling behind a mask and nobody knows how others are feeling. If you’ve not heard from your pal in a while, send them a text and chat it out.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact Samaritans at 116 123 or Breathing Space at 0800 838 587