New organisation aims to reduce male suicide rates

Dan Proverbs and Pauline Garlinge are launching Brothers in Arms this weekend at the Classic Car Show.
Dan Proverbs and Pauline Garlinge are launching Brothers in Arms this weekend at the Classic Car Show.

A man who previously considered taking his own life has set up one of Scotland’s first men’s mental health organisations to help other men who feel the same way.

Dan Proverbs (57), from Milngavie, is going to launch Brothers in Arms at Milngavie’s Classic Car Show in the precinct this Saturday (June 17), to show men that it is okay to speak about how they are feeling.

At the age of 40 Mr Proverbs considered taking his own life when he was struggling with his mental health, because he didn’t feel able to speak about how he was feeling or ask for help.

Dan, who has since trained as a community champion with national anti-stigma programme See Me, wants to see a change in worrying male suicide figures.

Currently men in the UK aged 20 to 49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. The suicide rate for men in Scotland is two and a half times higher than that of women.

He said: “Brothers in Arms is starting as a website and social media platform for men who are at the start or in the middle of a journey, they might be having emotional difficulties or difficulty in talking about what is going on.

“They can go on the site and see if there is something there for them, there is lots of information, stories and it can show men they are not alone.“

Dan was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) three years ago, but before that he struggled alone and didn’t want to tell anyone what he was going through.

He added: “I think that men can’t speak about mental health because they are not shown how to, even from the people they look up to.

“Whether that be a father figure, or a mentor, if they don’t show emotion or talk about things, you think that if they don’t do it, then I can’t do it.

“I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone and I didn’t try to get help, either from a doctor or speaking to someone, because I thought, I’m a man, we don’t do that.

“I contemplated taking my own life. It took ten years of learning to talk to other people to become at peace with myself.

“Some men don’t have ten years to find that. So we need to get to a point where men can learn to talk as soon as they start getting those feelings that might lead them to take their own life.”

Calum Irving, See Me director, said: “Mental health is part of everyone’s day to day life, it affects all of us, but there is still a stigma around it.

“Men in particular find it difficult to speak out as we are not encouraged to admit when we are struggling.

“Men are less likely to ask each other how they are feeling or chat about what they are going through.

“But no one should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they are experiencing a difficult time with their mental health.

“It’s okay not to be okay, regardless of your gender.”

Find out more and get involved by visiting www.brothersinarmsscotland.co.uk.