“ASKING for help isn’t a sign of weakness - it’s a sign of strength.”

Traditionally men tend to bottle things up. If they are ill many will grin and bear it - it just isn’t the done thing to feel down.

However, this stiff-upper-lip attitude needs to be addressed for men to feel comfortable about sharing their problems. Being brave and strong doesn’t pass muster if you’re feeling down and desperate inside.

Men have never worn their hearts on their sleeves, nor are they likely to talk about problems with their pals compared to women which is probably why men are more likely to commit suicide.

The reality of male suicide was devastatingly brought to the fore in the current Coronation Street storyline.

Last week viewers tuned in to emotional scenes leading up to the character, Aidan Connor, played by the actor Shayne Ward, taking his own life.

Lorna Fraser, Executive Lead Samaritans’ Media Advisory Service, says: “We are pleased Coronation Street has taken on this very important topic and has handled it so responsibly.

“Coronation Street built really helpful messages into Aidan’s story. It shows the devastation caused to families who are bereaved by suicide. It also illustrates that sometimes there are no visible signs that someone is struggling, and the importance of talking if things get too much, and looking out for each other.

“Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 – so showing that men can struggle with talking about their feelings and asking for help to the large audiences who watch soaps can encourage people to reach out for help and look out for their friends and loved ones. Including a story about suicide in a soap can reach people who may not watch a documentary about suicide.

“We hope Aidan’s story encourages people who may be suffering in silence to speak out and seek help. We also hope it encourages others to reach out if they’re worried about someone they know.

“Carefully developed storylines in soaps can help to start vital conversations. People do call Samaritans having been touched by something they’ve seen in a programme or reported in the news. Samaritans is the only organisation that is available 24/7. Viewers of Coronation Street will be signposted to Samaritans’ helpline, via https://www.itv.com/advice following the key episodes.

Austin, a volunteer with the Bradford branch of the Samaritans, says: “Male suicide has been an issue and a campaign for us. For a number of years we have focused on it and getting men to talk.”

Austin, who as part of the Samaritans Festival branch has attended festivals around the country with fellow volunteers to raise the charity’s profile and provide a presence for those who want to talk, believes attitude along with the loss of traditional male industries may have had an impact.

“One of the things that has come out in research, and from talking to people, is women tend to use their social groups for emotional support whereas men use their partners for emotional support.

“If a woman has a problem she will chat about it with her friends, a bloke won’t so when anything happens to disrupt that relationship the man then has no emotional support.”

However, Austin has recognised more men are starting to open up. Outreach initiatives such as attending festivals - and the successful partnership the Samaritans set up five years ago with Network Rail training staff to spot signs of someone who may need someone to talk to which, he says, has reduced suicides on the railways by a third, has enabled the Samaritans to branch out and work face to face with the public as well as provide a listening ear on the end of the phone.

“I would say men are starting to talk about it but I still say there is that strong working class attitude you just tough it out and that is what we need to break into,” says Austin.

Asking for help is imperative, however, Austin appreciates men won’t naturally go to the doctor even if something is wrong. “That is the attitude that needs to be changed,” he says.

“Emotional problems don’t get better, they spiral out of control and feeds on itself and becomes bigger and bigger. It’s asking for help. It is openly asking for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.”

To contact Bradford Samaritans call 01274 547547. You can call the Samaritans any time, free from any phone on 116 123. People can also email: jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org to find their nearest branch for face to face help.