Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Keegan backs bid to cut suicides
Footballers are doing their bit to promote mental health
England manager Kevin Keegan and football clubs across the country are taking part in a campaign to reduce the number of young men who commit suicide.
Clubs including Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Middlesbrough are putting up posters in their grounds at the weekend.
Another picture will show the same man sitting alone on a bench with the words: "When he tried to end it all, they didn't want to know."
Underneath the pictures is the message: "Mental distress. It happens. You can help by being there."
The campaign, co-ordinated by the Health Education Authority (HEA), is part of World Mental Health Day, which is marked around the globe on 10 October.
As well as the posters, 15,000 potential football stars at the Football Association's centres of excellence and football academies will be given cards which set out different ways of dealing with stress.
Several high-profile footballers have hit the headlines after having problems coping with the strains of superstardom.
The HEA wants to show that mental illness can affect anyone.
Kevin Keegan said: "Young footballers need to be mentally fit to cope with everything that the modern game can throw at them.
"In general, I think it's important that we support any campaign to promote positive mental health and I wish the HEA every success with World Mental Health Day."
HEA mental health project manager, Elizabeth Gale, said: "Young men are increasingly aware of how important it is to keep physically fit, but they rarely turn their minds to their mental health."
She said keeping fit could help beat stress, but the ability to relax and to confide in friends was also important.
In 1996, there were 4,917 suicides and undetermined deaths, 449 of them young men under 24.
In 1998, there were 5,357 such deaths, of which 545 were of young men.
Suicide is the second most common cause of death in young men after road accidents and accounts for 20% of all young people's deaths.
The government plans to reduce suicides by a fifth by 2010.
Health officials have been looking at innovative ways to reach men, who are generally less likely than women to seek help for health problems.
Projects include outreach work at pubs and clubs as well as football grounds.
Earlier this week, the government announced it was investing £250,000 in a football programme run by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Football leagues will be set up in parts of the city with high teen pregnancy rates. Boys who enrol will get football coaching and meet Wolves players, but will also have to attend education sessions on health issues, such as sexual health and drugs.