A DAD-OF-TWO who almost turned to suicide after his life turned upside down has set up a support group to encourage other men that it's OK to talk.

Steve Thornton, from Newton-le-Willows, felt like he had nowhere to turn in 2010 when he separated from his wife and no longer lived full time with his children.

He said: "To say my whole world had come crashing down is an understatement. We had been together for ten years, so the thought of living without her and my very young children was unbearable.

St Helens Star:

"I found the new transition to single life a struggle and started to envision ways to make the pain all go away. Suicidal thoughts became a daily ritual, how would I end it? I felt alone, isolated, with no one to talk to."

But fortunately Steve, now 40, received help from an employee assistance programme within United Utilities which he works for, but he realises that many others are not as fortunate.

He said: "The programme helped me to focus away from suicidal thoughts, but I have always struggled since with self-worth and being good enough.

"I turned to many self-help books and worked hard within my job and have slowly transitioned into a life which is fulfilled with my new wife Kate.

St Helens Star:

"I still have down days, but thanks to the support from Kate, my kids and a handful of brilliant friends see the positives of life.

"St Helens has the highest rates of suicide in the UK, particularly among men and that to me is not a surprise.

"Men don't open up very much, it is seen as a 'non-macho' thing to do and that is just wrong.

"After reading about that in the Star I decided that rather than just think about it I would do something to give back."

Steve set up HIMvisible in June 2019, a group which meet once a month but who have regular access to a private Facebook group made up of members only, in order to create a community.

HIMvisible is confidential and members must be respectful and tolerant.

Steve added: "To me it's about creating a brotherhood, a family you can turn to and who may not understand the exact thing you are going through, but can understand how you feel and are there to help.

"It doesn't matter what brought you to this point, everyone can understand feeling alone and it's important to know that you aren't

"Everyone has ups and downs in life, but ending your life is not the answer, please if you feel desperate get in touch, attend the group, or just contact the Facebook page.

"You are not alone, you have a brotherhood here to help you."

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that between 2015 to 2017, St Helens had a suicide rate of 17.9 – more than 80 per cent higher than the 9.6 national average.

There were 29 recorded suicides both in 2017 and 2016, with 25 recorded 2015.

For more go to @himvisible on Facebook.