KEIGHLEY Cougars are backing a suicide prevention campaign which urges people to 'check in with their mates'.

The rugby league club will be sharing the message with fans at the ground and via its social media channels during the coming months.

Aim of the initiative is to encourage people, particularly men, to have conversations around mental health and suicide.

The campaign – which is also supported by Bradford Bulls, Bradford City FC and Yorkshire County Cricket Club – has been developed by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s suicide prevention programme.

Steven Watkinson, chief operating officer at Keighley Cougars, says: "Having our professional players able to encourage other men to speak out sends a really strong and united message to the community that if they are willing to say it is OK to talk, hopefully others will follow suit and try to listen.

"Amongst our group of staff there are some well publicised stories on mental health and suicide prevention, and we are proud to sit alongside others on this project."

Bradford Council is also involved in the scheme.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, executive member for healthy people and places, says: "Mental health can hugely impact people’s lives and their families. Being able to share with someone how we are feeling and talk a situation through can make a difference. I hope that working in partnership with local agencies across the district will allow us to highlight the fact support is out there 24/7, whether that’s talking to a friend, work colleague or family members."

Rose Dunlop, a consultant in public health, says: "Between 2019 and 2021 there were 132 registered deaths from suicide in Bradford district, with 76 per cent of these being males.

"I’m pleased that our district’s major sports teams have given their backing to this powerful campaign. For people who are struggling with mental health, being able to talk to someone about it can be an important first step to getting the help they need."

Her message is echoed by Jess Parker, of West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership's suicide prevention programme.

She adds: "Every suicide is one too many.

"We know that suicide rates tend to rise in times of economic downturn, and that a growing number of people are experiencing poverty and financial exclusion. We want to decrease rates further and have adopted a zero-suicide approach."

For more about the campaign and advice, visit