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Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK, with 76 percent of all suicides in 2014 being men. It's a shocking statistic - one that 26-year-old Oli Regan almost became part of.

The aspiring actor, from Kent, South East London, struggled to speak out about his overwhelming feeling of loneliness and isolation for years, brought on by bipolar and anxiety, which ultimately lead him to attempt suicide.

"When I was young I was a pretty good actor and I was good at keeping things to myself and putting on a smile and pretending everything was alright," he told TheLADbible.

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Oli.

"Back then I just thought I was a bit weird. So did my dad. He would tell me to sort myself out and 'man up'. As I got older, if I tried to explain that I wasn't feeling great, he would tell me to get to work and stop feeling sorry for myself.

"He'd also tell me I was an attention seeker so that's just what I used to think I was. I'd try really hard to stop the things that would make me seem like that to him and to other people around me."

Oli also struggled to open up to the few friends he had at school and was picked on for being overweight, which only intensified his feelings of isolation and lack of self-worth.

"The way I was feeling, already mixed with the things my dad and kids at school would say, just left me feeling horrible about myself and I felt like I had nobody to talk to."

As he got older, Oli began to manage his manic depression and anxiety and got himself a job and began dating.

However, after splitting up with his girlfriend and losing his job within months of each other, aged 18, Oli's mental health began to spiral downward and he was left feeling like taking his own life was his 'only option'.

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"I just felt weak. Like I wasn't a real man," he said. "I felt like I was missing something. I felt lonely. Completely isolated.

"Splitting up with someone, losing my job and arguing with my mum; those three things made me feel like I was a burden on people and I couldn't see any other way out."

Thankfully, Oli was found by a family member just in time for his life to be saved but he continued to battle his diagnosed bipolar and anxiety over the next few years and attempted to take his own life a further three times.

"The only way I can explain it is it's like a comic book. You know when someone flicks the pages really fast and you can see what's in it briefly but you can't pick anything out? That's what it's like. You can't pick anything from it and it's all going so fast. You just want everything to stop."

The 26-year-old is now on the road to recovery but admits he still experiences suicidal thoughts. However, as he has reached out and received support, he is now much better equipped to deal with them.

One of the main things that helps him stay positive is a 'safety net' Whatsapp group chat he has with several other young lads who suffer with mental health issues.

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He told TheLADbible: "As I've got older I've found people who I connect with who have been in similar situations and experiences to me.

"One of them happens to have bipolar. Another has a history of depression in his family so we all relate to each other.

"We have banter to the fullest but if one of us turns round one day and says 'look boys, I'm feeling a bit shit', we can ring each other and be like 'what's happening?'

"If someone doesn't reply to a message in the group chat after a while, we'll ring them and make sure everything is alright because that is a sign that something is going on.

"They're a bit younger than me so they're still early on in their journeys. But I can be the one to say 'look, try this' because I've been there and I know."

Oli says having people to open up to and talk to is what helped him come to terms with his suicide attempts and he's now began a personal blog to document his experiences and encourage others to speak out. He's also made a short film about how difficult it can be to tell the people you love you're suffering with a mental health problem.

"The Internet is so helpful. If you haven't got any friends there's always a group or a forum with tons of people who like the same things as you or feel the same as you.

"Connecting with people is really important because when you isolate yourself from the world you end up getting overwhelmed by the thoughts in your brain.

"If I could have opened up to someone back then when I was growing up, I might not have found myself in the situations that I did when I got older."

"Sometimes all you can need is a person to talk to. Some people do need medicine but for me the core of the situation is the fact that you're alone. You think it's only you in that situation and that you're the only person who feels like that. And you feel selfish for it. But really there's millions of people out there who feel the same.

"One in four people have a mental health problem. It's time to reach out and support one another."

Be brave. Talk about it.

U OK M8?' is an initiative from TheLADbible in partnership with a range of mental health charities which will feature a series of films and stories to raise awareness of mental health.

Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do.

MIND: 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans: 116 123.

CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, yet too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless because of their mental health. Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. To find out more visit www.time-to-change.org.uk

At TheLADbible we're trying to gather the biggest picture of mental health for young people and we're working with a range of charities so that our findings can help them. Filling in this poll will help us find out the extent of the problem.

Illustrations by danwilson1982

Illustrations by danwilson1982

Sian Broderick

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