AN arts project leader has written his first song to raise awareness about suicide and the charity he runs to help improve people's mental health.

Beano Flude, who runs Durham-based charity RT Projects, recorded the song What If to raise funds for the organisation, which uses art to help people improve their mental health.

Inspired by his own experience, he says he hopes the song will raise awareness about suicide.

He said: "The idea was to highlight the issue of suicide and poor mental health.

"Suicide is misunderstood by a lot of people. Some people think it's a selfish act but it can be like jumping out of a burning building because there's no option to stay where you are."

The Northern Echo:

Beano Flude, at RT Projects' base in Gilesgate, Durham

The project came about through a collaboration between RT Projects and Down By The River, which promotes live music in Durham.

Mr Flude worked with musician Steve Pledger to produce the track, which combines guitar music, written and performed by Mr Pledger and Mr Flude's spoken lyrics.

Mr Flude added: "I've always been obsessed about music but I'd never written a song. In the first verse I wanted people to understand where I have been.

"Hopefully it will help people who feel that way. I think if I had heard it when I was at my lowest it would have helped me to realise I'm not the only one.

"What I'm hoping is that people will see it's about hope."

The song is the lead track on an album of the same name, which was produced with help from other musicians from the North-East.

Among them is Martin Stephenson, of The Daintees fame,who will be headlining a gig to launch the album at Dunelm House on June 1.

All proceeds will go to RT Projects, which Mr Flude set up about 10 years ago with Emma Beattie.

The charity, based in Mill House Court, Gilesgate, opens three days a week, helping between 50 and 60 people each week.

He said: "Art is important but it's really a bit of an excuse to get people in. It's an opportunity to get people to reconnect with other people.

"Human beings need each other. I isolated myself because of my depression but if someone becomes isolated they will develop mental health issues.

"I learned from when I was ill that it lasted so long because I was by myself. I didn't tell anyone. I didn't really know what was wrong with me. I thought I had gone mad so I didn't seek any support."