Former Dons star Lee Mair has urged people to open up on mental health following the plight of one of his lifelong friends.
The ex-defender, 38, played alongside Chris Loggie for Springhill Primary’s team.
Three weeks ago, Lee checked up on his friend after becoming concerned about a message posted on Facebook.
He found Chris had made several attempts to take his own life.
Lee contacted the mental health charity Back Onside on his friend’s behalf and arranged a get-together of their old school team as a show of support.
Now he wants others to speak out about mental health issues before they reach a similar point.
He said: “Chris was my best mate at school and his dad used to take us to Pittodrie when we were younger.
“When I left at 16 we kind of lost contact but three weeks ago he put a post on Facebook and he seemed in a bad way.
“I messaged him to check if he was okay and basically he had tried to take his own life.
“He had just been released from hospital and he didn’t have anyone to talk to. He wasn’t getting the help he was needing.
“Now he’s showing progress. He’s got a brilliant future.
“Chris has been posting his progress every day, and although he’s still got a long way to go, he is doing really well.
“We had the reunion to show him we are all here for him and he loved it. He realised he has support and wants to get through it.
“It’s so important to speak out if you are struggling.
“A lot of people suffer in silence because they are unaware there are charities like Back Onside which are there to listen.
“The support they have given Chris is incredible.”
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Lee said being involved with the charity had made a “massive” difference to his friend.
He added: “When it comes to mental health, it’s really important to be proactive rather than reactive. If people speak out early and get the help they need there’s much less chance it will get to the stage Chris got to.”
With support from Back Onside founder Libby Emmerson, dad-of-four Chris, 38, is making progress.
He believes the efforts of his friends, as well as the charity, have helped him on the road to recovery.
He said: “The support I have received from Libby at Back Onside has been unbelievable. I was in a really dark place and without her support I know I wouldn’t be here today.
“For the first time in years I was able to open up to someone and that felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
“I owe Libby and the charity my life.”
Chris said it was an emotional moment when he saw his friends at the reunion.
He added: “I always felt so lonely but to see them all gave me a massive boost.
“For them to come to visit me was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.
“To say it put the fight back in me would be an understatement.
“If I’m having a bad day I just look at the photo of us all together, so not only am I fighting to like myself again, I’m fighting for each and every one of them.”
Libby said the charity would be working with Chris for a long time because ongoing support was very important.
She said: “I am so proud of Chris and I have told him that because it takes a lot to admit you are in a dark place.
“Getting more people to speak up about it is really important. It’s vital we get people to talk before it gets to a point where they are in that position.
“I am a firm believer that everyone will have mental health issues at some point in their life and the sooner you can recognise what’s happening, the better.”