A former Albion footballer who nearly took his life after gambling away £1 million is fronting a new campaign to curb male suicides.

Warren Aspinall is urging depressed men to put aside their macho image and get help as part of a new Samaritans campaign.

The latest Government figures show that Brighton and Hove has the second highest suicide rate in Britain, with men almost three times more likely than women to try to take their own lives.

Aspinall, who spent his final footballing season at Brighton and Hove Albion in 1999-2000, admitted he had tried to take his own life on a railway line in 2007 after his gambling got out of control.

Launching the Men on the Ropes campaign yesterday, Aspinall urged anyone in a desperate situation to "just pick up the phone and speak to somebody, speak to your wife or your loved one because that is what helped me.” Anyone experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope, can contact the Samaritans 24 hours a day seven days a week 08457 90 90 90 or visit www.samaritans.org.