‘I was so determined to be manly it drove me to suicide – men need to talk’

Stewart Hampton could be seen as the ultimate man's man.

He has served in the Armed Forces – both in the army and the RAF – for more than 15 years.

Like many men in their 30s he had been brought up with the saying 'man up' ringing in his ears.

The former Lance Corporal admits that he viewed talking about his problems as a sign of "weakness" – an attitude that almost cost him his life.

Now, the dad-of-six is determined to show other men that they have to learn to talk about their issues before it's too late.

Stewart is one of the brave men who have tried to take their own lives who are featured in Channel 5's hard hitting documentary, Suicidal: In Our Own Words.

Each minute across the world, one man takes their own life.

And one out of every six men who make an attempt to kill themselves will try again within a year.

Stewart was just 17 when he joined the forces, initially serving in the army.

He left a few years later but then re-joined, this time serving in the RAF.

Stewart completed tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan and admits he loved the life.

He said: "I enjoyed my time, even in the Middle East. There was a real sense of comraderie and I loved being in the forces."

The devoted dad admits he comes from an "old school" upbringing.

He explained: "I was brought up not to talk about my feelings. Instead, you'd have a drink to deal with things or you go out on the town with the lads and have a fight.

"That was my copng mechanism and that's how I would deal with things."

But Stewart was battling bigger demons and was trying to close of his emotions until they simply became too much for him.

A shoulder injury that wouldn't heal, despite three gruelling surgeries meant he had no choice but to leave the forces.

Then, he reached his lowest point and felt he couldn't take any more and decided to end his own life.

Thankfully, he wasn't successful and it was the turning point in his battle with mental health.

Gone was bottling up his emotions and instead Stewart started talking to both professional counsellors and his loved ones.

He has been received support from the dedicated team at the Riverside Mental Health Centre in north west London.

Stewart said: "My coping mechanisms were totally unacceptable but to talk had felt like a weakness.

"I felt vulnerable and kept thinking I should just 'man up' but that's all completely changed now.

"I'm glad it happened and I want more men to start talking. I don't bottle things up now, I do the opposite.

"I'll talk to anyone who'll listen and I'd urge other men to do the same.

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