IT was a blow he wasn’t prepared for.

On the same day Kieran McGregor announced his pledge to “turn things around” in Pollok in a bid to make a change for the young people growing up in the area, he discovered his pal had taken his own life.

The 26-year-old had vowed to stop at nothing to erect a community centre designed to help children find their passion and keep them off the streets to stop a pattern of behaviour, that he says, caused him to waste 10 years of his life.

He started the day off on a high before he was informed of his friend Joe’s death.

“It’s different when you know the person, that’s when it really hits home,” Kieran said.

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“Every time you hear about it you think ‘my God, this is preventable’ and then when you hear you’ve lost people you know, it’s really frustrating.

“Things are never going to change if we don’t change how we handle it.”

Since the beginning of the year, Kieran and his friends have lost a number of pals and acquaintances to suicide.

Toxic masculinity is common growing up in the scheme in the South Side of Glasgow, Kieran says.

As a teenager, it’s not long before peer pressure sees many young people turn to drink and drugs.

Meanwhile, Kieran and his pals – including his partner Jodi Hillhouse, best mate Declan Slater and his partner Jennifer Ralston, who are also taking part in the initiative to improve the lives of young people in Pollok – felt pushed out of school into trades or college courses, which was a result of not being overachievers, they feel.

He said: “It’s so scary. It’s just the way things are right now. You don’t even really notice it until it hits you.

“Drink and drugs become a vicious cycle and then mental health on top of that.

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“Before you know it, you can find yourself consumed with this culture and it’s not even really who you are.”

Deprivation, unemployment and the increasing isolation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have all played a part in the rise of mental health issues being reported over the last 12 months.

However, Kieran insists the culture surrounding areas like Pollok make it much harder for men, like him, to open up about their mental health and the difficulties they may face.

It’s this systemic silence Kieran hopes to tackle.

He said: “It’s a tough subject. It’s where our community is just now and it’s a bad place to be.

“It affects you that much more because these guys lived in our area and it’s all really close to home.

“It all could be prevented, all of it, and I think that’s why I’m taking so much hurt from it.”

Suicide remains the highest cause of death for men aged 20 to 49-years-old.

Experts suggest the number of those taking their life is substantially higher in deprived areas, like Pollok.

It’s a statistic that causes heartbreak for thousands of families and friends across Glasgow every day – and it’s one Kieran knows too well.

He said: “My partner and I would love to have children, but I just couldn’t right now.

“It’s too scary. There isn’t enough support for people in areas like ours – be it for mental health, addiction, employment ideas or just general help with your


That is something the electrician is trying to change.

Today, Kieran and his friends are working together to secure a location to set up a base for their community project.

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Their aim is to provide a safe haven for young people to excel, relax and feel heard.

Kieran said: “I used to sit with Jodi and say, ‘I want to run away from this place, I want to move abroad’.

“Now, I’m older I think why run away? I should help to change things.

“Losing people I know has given me more of a push. It’s so worrying but so many of the people who have died were the people who were always doing things for others.”

He added: “We have to try to honour that and make these changes. I just want to help as many as I can.”

If someone you know is struggling, here are some signs to look out for that show they might need help:

Feeling restless and agitated, angry and aggressive, tearful or being tired or lacking in energy

Not wanting to talk to or be with people or do things they usually enjoy, or finding it tough to cope with everyday things Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings, or talking about feeling hopeless, worthless or helpless, or feeling trapped

Not replying to messages or being distant.

It can be tricky to start a conversation but there are ways to get talking:

The Samaritans say it’s okay to ask someone directly if they’re suicidal as research shows this helps. If they are uncomfortable and don’t want to open up, that’s okay too - you’ve let them know you’re there for them.

If they do want to talk then really listen. 

Good listening involves giving the person your full attention, being patient and repeating things back to them so they know you’re paying attention.

Where to get help:

You can suggest the person goes to their GP for advice and support

SAMH gives mental health information and can direct you to local services. Call 0141 530 1000 or email

If you need to talk, call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or see

Families who need support after being bereaved by suicide can contact PETAL on 01698 324 502 or email

Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email the charity at