On Top Of The World – The Documentary Aiming To Remove The Stigma Of Male Mental Health

Dave Manning is a man who has seen incredibly tough times throughout his life, which reached a critical point when he found himself sitting with his legs dangling off the cliff edge at Beachy Head. He is however, now in the best place mentally he has ever been and is hoping his story can inspire others to open up, seek help and end the stigma of men’s mental health.

Dave endured an abusive relationship for over a decade. He was emotionally and mentally tortured daily, which evolved towards the end as physical abuse too. It started slowly, with questions about why he was late from work rapidly building into more wild claims and accusations that ended up forcing Dave to isolate himself from friends and even quit his career to be closer to home.

He endured this for many years until it got so bad that he would dread coming home. He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, and after convincing himself that there was nowhere to turn to and that things weren’t going to get any better, Dave packed his bags and travelled to Beachy Head – a place that has a special place in his heart. This was the place he spent many happy times with his grandfather, and throughout his life it has been his ‘thinking spot’. He arrived there in the early hours of the morning, and although he had no conscious intentions while driving there, the darkness and silence were deafening and he was left with his thoughts which quickly turned to blaming himself and asking if he could have done anything different, and even that his children would be better off without him around.

He sat there, legs dangling off the cliff edge, arms locked ready to push, when something caught his attention. It was a pair of plaques. Dave moved away from the edge and went to read them, and found they were dedicated to a father and husband that had jumped very recently – one was from the man’s wife and the other from his children. This really hit him, and he suddenly questioned what he was doing. As he stepped away, he heard a voice. It was a farmer up early to attend his fields. He asked if Dave was okay and asked him to come and sit on a bench with him and talk. Dave broke down to him and the years of bottling it up finally poured out. Before he knew it the police were there. This unsuspecting farmer who was starting his day of work helped to save Dave’s life.

He eventually left his abusive partner, asked for help and moved away to start a fresh life. Dave now lives in Doddington Park with his supportive partner Julie, of whom he says he couldn’t have done this without. It has been a bumpy road, but Dave finally feels ready to share his story to provide hope and encouragement to others that things do get better. In September 2021, the 10 year anniversary of that night, Dave worked with director Ewan Thomas and the Bourne based Charity ‘Don’t Lose Hope’ to make a short documentary about his story.

The documentary is now being used by the charity within its counselling sessions and within its mental health first aid training courses. Dave has also been fundraising for the charity and has raised over £1000 which will pay for 51 professional counselling sessions and possibly help change or even save a life. Dave wants to not only encourage people, especially men who typically are told to ‘man up’, to seek help but to also encourage us all to reach out to our friends we might not have heard from in a while or haven’t quite seemed themselves recently– it could be lifechanging.

If you’d like to view the short documentary, you can visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3MjdlYi7hg or type in On Top Of The World: My Suicide Story on YouTube

To learn more about Don’t Lose Hope you can visit www.dontlosehope.co.uk