Sitting in his front room days after his thirtieth birthday celebrations as his children slept soundly upstairs, Derek Chalmers, plagued by depression, decided to take his own life.

It was his darkest hour and he takes an deep intake of breath as he relives that awful period when suicide seemed like the only way out.

He said: “Not long after I turned thirty all I could think was that I couldn’t be here anymore. I had prepped myself, I was ready, and I don’t know if it was the thought of my children or my own cowardice that stopped me.”

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Recent figures show a sharp rise in the number of suicides in Scotland for the first time in six years, with an average of two deaths every day. Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show that 728 people died by suicide in 2016 – that’s 56 more deaths compared to 2015.

Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day and Derek Chalmers, now a volunteer with Scottish Association for Mental Health, wants people contemplating suicide to know there is support out there for them.

Research shows that men are two-and-a-half times more likely to die by suicide than women. Chalmers says: “I’m not surprised. My generation of 30-40 year-old men were always told “man up”, “big boys don’t cry” - so this idea of toxic masculinity is embedded in to you from childhood.

“I now know now that my anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts stem back to when I was a teenager. We need to be open to talking about mental health in every day conversations. I don’t judge people on Facebook when they update their status to say they have a cold and feel rotten, if you’re having a bad day with depression it should be the same.”

Physical Education Teacher, Paul Sludden, echoes these statements when remembering his friend Chris Mitchell, who took his life in May last year.

Mitchell was a successful football player who went on to play for Falkirk, Clyde and Queen of the South. Sludden said that football culture can also be a huge burden on someone’s mental health, particularly in Scotland where the sport is taken so seriously.

“Football is so cut throat these days, if you told your manager you were suffering from mental health problems they might not play you, it’s a lot of pressure.”

The Chris Mitchell Memorial Foundation has been set up in his memory and will offer mental health training for at least one individual within every football club in Scotland, from junior to professional. They hope this will help pick up signs earlier and offer much needed support to players in the profession.

Mental Health Foundation Scotland (MHFS) have also launched a public campaign called “Time to talk about it” to address the rise in suicides in Scotland.

A Freedom of Information Request obtained by MHFS revealed that some local authorities throughout Scotland have significantly reduced investment in suicide prevention measures. The charity warns that this is not a topic which government can be complacent about and have advocated for twelve steps to improve people’s understanding of mental health in Scotland.

This includes, giving teachers the right training to talk about mental health in classrooms, compulsory suicide prevention training for all clinical health workers and pharmacists, and encouraging compassionate workplaces that support people to stay in employment during periods of ill health.

Toni Giugliano, Public Affairs Manager, Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: “It’s time for a national conversation about the devastating impact of suicide and what more can be done to prevent them. Whether it’s giving teachers the training to explore mental health in schools, creating compassionate workplaces or investing in crisis services, it’s clear that action is needed.”