THE family of Stroud man who tragically took his own life are encouraging others like him to speak out about male mental health and seek help.

Much-loved father and husband Mark Townsend from Avening lost his battle with depression in November 2014.

Following his death the family and close friends set up The Mark Townsend Charitable Trust to help others battling depression and continue his memory in a positive way.

In under one year the group have raised thousands to help 10 others like Mark turn their lives around by paying for counselling sessions.

Speaking at the latest fundraiser, nephew Arron said more needed to be done to raise awareness about male mental health and break the stigma attached to it.

“Mark tragically took his own life in November 2014. I'm so proud of my family for how they've dealt with this and I'll always be grateful to everyone that's helped us along the way,” he said.

“Suicide is the single biggest killer in men under the age of 45. In 2014 alone 4623 men took their own life.

“If you break it down that’s 12 men every day and one man every two hours. 41 per cent of men that thought about suicide felt they could not talk about their feelings.

“Only 20 per cent of people know that suicide is the most likely cause of death in men under the age of 45. So it's not only ok to talk but please know it’s OK to get help.

“When this happened to our family we set up this charity our aim was to help at least one person, and we've helped over 10 already.

“It's important to remember that just because someone is smiling it doesn't always mean they're ok on the inside.”

He also highlighted a new online campaign called #ITSOKAYTOTALK, which is also encouraging more discussion and support around male mental health.

The skittles fundraiser on Friday, August 12 raised £374 for the trust.

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Joy Hibbins, chief executive of Suicide Crisis, said: “We know how very difficult it can be to seek help when you are at the point of suicide but we would encourage anyone in crisis to contact us on 07975 974455 or via our website

“Our Suicide Crisis Centre provides a safe place for people who are at risk of suicide and we have a well-qualified, caring team who can support you.”