Birmingham & Black Country

World Mental Health Day: Suicide prevention text service starts

David Cotterill Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Ex-Wales footballer David Cotterill, who has spoken about his own mental health, is backing the new text service

A suicide prevention text message service to encourage more men to "open up" has been started by a charity on World Mental Health Day.

The 24/7 hotline run by The Kaleidoscope Plus Group is available across the UK to people of all ages.

Anyone texting will get an instant response from a trained volunteer who will attempt to keep the person safe and access support services.

An official launch at Solihull Moors FC will take place later.

It has been organised after matches there raised about £15,000 for the hotline.

Thirty-six teams, including former footballers, took part in a fundraising competition in memory of 41-year-old football coach Nick Mowl, who took his own life in 2017.

The charity said 2018 figures showed 84 men in the UK died by suicide each week.

Its chief executive Monica Shafaq said generally "men don't open up as much as women".

But she added: "I do think that's changing [with] the likes of lots of sporting personalities and celebrities who've come forward and openly said they've had mental health issues."

Mrs Shafaq said sometimes people "don't feel able" to talk because the condition could "make them believe they'll be judged".

She said: "We wanted to take that away as a barrier. You can text someone. You have that conversation, but via text instead."

Image caption Garry Monk, when he was Birmingham City boss, joined a host of former footballers at The Nick Mowl Cup

The charity began the service via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at 07:00 BST, with people in need able to text TeamKPG to 85258 and get help.

Two of the speakers at Thursday evening's launch event, ex-Wales winger David Cotterill and fellow former professional footballer Drewe Broughton, have spoken openly about their mental health issues.

Image copyright John Bray
Image caption Charity chief executive Monica Shafaq said there was "support out there"

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