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Nature photography brought man back from brink of suicide

Matt Doogue, 34, tried to take his own life nine years ago after hitting 'rock bottom'.

By STV News

Published 26 Sep 2019.

A nature photographer has told how taking pictures of insects brought him back from the brink of suicide - with his work now featured in National Geographic.

Matt Doogue, 34, tried to take his own life nine years ago after hitting "rock bottom".

He sought medical help and counselling, but found an unexpected lifeline when he took up nature photography.

The dad-of-two found looking at insects through a camera lens helped him in ways he could never have imagined.

It had a "calming effect" and helped to "disconnect" from stress.

And his astonishing images, showing insects and spiders in stunning detail against brightly coloured backgrounds, caught the eye of publishers at National Geographic.

Mr Doogue said: "Nine years ago I tried to kill myself.

"The moment is blurry - in the lead up I was so paranoid and angry that I couldn't leave the house.

"When I attempted suicide I knew I needed to see someone.

"I went to the doctors and got anti-depressants and counselling but knew I needed something more and that's when I started photography.

"I ended up as a featured photographer on the National Geographic.

"It was the pinnacle of my career, it felt incredible."

Mr Doogue, who lives in Armadale, West Lothian, fears Scotland is in the grip of an "epidemic" of male suicide.

He said getting lost in nature has helped him, and he believes it could help others.

Mr Doogue added: "Whenever I am out with my camera I don't think about my other worries, it is just me and the environment around me.

"You can lose yourself with a spider making their web.

"When I am photographing insects I get lost in their world for a while."

Mr Doogue will speak to students at Edinburgh Napier University about the impact nature photography can have on mental health, on November 20.

He stated: "There is an epidemic of male suicide in Scotland and this is why I try and be so open about my own experience.

"I think the problem is this 'man-up' approach, the idea that men need to be strong puts so much pressure on young males to be fine all the time."

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