Scotland

Lee Mair: My friend helped others by speaking of suicide bid

Chris Loggie
Image caption Chris Loggie (left) credits his old school friend and former footballer Lee Mair (right) with saving his life

A man who was helped by footballer Lee Mair after attempting suicide has encouraged others to seek help from a mental health charity.

Chris Loggie, 38, tried to take his own life in June having posted a disturbing message on social media.

Lee, an old friend from primary school in Aberdeen, saw the message and quickly put Chris in touch with mental health support service Back Onside.

Since the pair went public with their story, the charity has been "inundated" with calls from other individuals in crisis and has protected them from harm.

Chris, who was diagnosed with a mental health disorder last year, said he was released from hospital in June shortly after a suicide attempt.

But Libby Emmerson, founder of Back Onside, visited him and backed his case to doctors for further treatment - he has been receiving support at the Royal Cornhill Hospital since.

His story emerged months after figures showed a "devastating" increase of suicides in Scotland last year.

Image caption Chris' primary football team came to visit him after Lee Mair spread the word that their old friend needed help

Chris told BBC Radio Scotland: "I can't thank them enough - they've been absolutely wonderful with me.

"Libby travelled miles to come to appointments with my doctor. I was just wanting out of the hospital but I realised I needed help and she was my voice to get me kept in.

"I've been in hospital for 32 days, I'm still in at the moment."

Lee added that when he saw Chris' Facebook post, he just knew something "wasn't right" and was compelled to reach out to his old friend.

Having played football together in school, he rallied their old teammates to pay Chris a visit in hospital to demonstrate their support.

Image caption Chris and Lee's primary football squad about 30 years ago

Lee, who played for Aberdeen FC, Dundee United and Dumbarton FC, said: "I don't see myself as a role model, I just see myself as helping my best mate from primary school.

"It's quite emotional saying that because that's what it was when I saw that post."

Libby confirmed that since Chris shared his story last week, she has received calls from several people in similar circumstances and has helped them seek support.

She said: "The response was overwhelming and we were inundated with calls and messages from the general public needing support.

"We have also had several more professional footballers reach out and ask for help as well as offer their support for others, should we need it."

'I felt I was selfish'

Chris, a father of four, said that a dangerous cycle of guilt not only prevented him from sharing his dark thoughts, but also lowered his mood day by day.

He said: "I still do have guilt about it - I was prepared to leave my children.

"I feel that I'm selfish in a way and people might think I was selfish because of what I was going to do. But I honestly didn't see another way out."

Libby added that, in her experience, shame over wanting to die is one of the main things that keeps people closed off.

She explained: "They don't want to talk to anyone about wanting to die and they don't want anyone to talk them out of it either.

"However, I know from experience that if you can start that conversation with someone who is in that dark place and let them see and hear that they have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed for then they will start to open up and talk.

"I would, and do, tell someone in that situation that there is always a reason to live and there is always someone that will listen and understand their needs.

"Always talk no matter how small they think the matter is."

Moving forward

Since his retirement from football, Lee has turned his attention to the mental wellbeing of players who are often isolated after leaving the industry.

"They go from playing football to joining the real world," he said. "There's a big transition and the percentage of depression, suicide and bankruptcy from that is very very high.

"[Suicide] is a huge huge issue. So charities like Back Onside, are a credit to what they do, helping people on a daily basis."

Lee has worked with Back Onside, prompting other footballers to volunteer their services.

Aberdeen FC also plans to work with the charity and launch a support service in the near future.

Details have still to be confirmed but club officials say the project will take shape following a move to a new stadium.

As for Chris, while he still finds each day a struggle, he maintains that making the phone call to Back Onside was the "best decision of his life".

He said: "I feel every day is like a step forward and I'm moving on with my life.

"I've not had people around me - now I do, I'm fighting every day and I'm getting stronger."

Information and advice

If you or someone you know is struggling with issues raised by this story, find support through BBC Action Line.