A man has told how he tried to end his own life after losing eight of his friends to suicide - and both of his parents within months of each other.

Paul MacPherson says his desperate pleas for help fell on deaf ears as he struggled with overwhelming grief, addiction and depression caused by the tragedies, which all happened in a traumatic six months.

He has bravely shared his story with the Glasgow Times in a bid to prevent others from becoming 'another statistic of Glasgow’s silent epidemic'.

We told yesterday how the city has recorded the highest level of suicides in Scotland over the last five years, with people living in deprived areas almost 3% more likely to try and end their lives because of debt and poverty compared to those in more affluent areas.

Glasgow Times: Paul MacPhersonPaul MacPherson

Paul, 45, said: “It was the most awful time of my life. I was left experiencing a level of grief I’ve never experienced.

"Losing one friend to suicide was heartbreaking, but then there was another and then another and another. It felt like every time I got over that overwhelming sense of loss, the phone would ring, and the same nightmare would be starting all over again.

"Eventually I had lost eight of my closest friends, all of whom had taken their own lives. As if that wasn't enough, then both of my parents, Senga and Duncan, died in a short space of time and I just didn’t feel mentally strong enough to cope or go on.

“I tried reaching out for crisis intervention, but no one could really understand how I was feeling. I couldn’t eat, sleep or think straight and last Christmas Eve I decided I’d had enough and didn’t want to go on. 

"I just didn’t see a purpose and was sick of struggling every day.

“I reached a point where I genuinely thought not being here was my only option. After attempting an overdose, I woke up the next day and realised I was being given a second chance.”

The data, released by the National Records of Scotland, show 753 recorded suicides in 2021, the lowest number since 2017. 

Despite this trend, the number of deaths in Glasgow rose from 88 to 106 between 2017 and 2021.

The figures also showed there has been a sharp increase in the number of men aged between 65 and 84 who have taken their own life, as well as people between 25 and 34.

Paul turned to Families and Friends Affected by Murder Suicide (FAMS), and finally received the vital help he needed. He was provided with specialist one-to-one counselling, enabling him to finally deal with his sense of overwhelming grief. 

The Wishaw man added: “I’m blessed to have another chance and coming to this wonderful charity is the best decision I've ever made. I now have hope for the future and a sense of purpose to move my life forward.

“I’d say to anyone having suicidal tendencies to reach out for help. It’s out there and things will get better.

"The Scottish Government needs to take more effective action on suicide prevention. Surely, it’s better to save people than calculate data on how we fail people every year?

“I’m certain I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for the help I’ve received. They are my guardian angels. Anyone struggling like I was needs to reach out.”

Nicola Jane Swinton, who is a psychotherapist with FAMS, says their services have never been more in demand.

Glasgow Times: Nicola Jane SwintonNicola Jane Swinton

She said: “In the last six months we have seen a big increase in the number of older men and women turning to us because they have been affected by the suicide of a loved one or they themselves feel suicidal.

“We’re also experiencing an increase in the number of married men struggling to cope and an increase of people coping with bereavement due to suicide.  

“We provide a dedicated telephone helpline and a first point of contact for anyone affected by murder or suicide. We also have support groups, befriending support and one-to-one counselling and we also run suicide prevention workshops in high schools.

“Its crucial people feel they can get the right support when they need it most.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said work is being done to address the problem.

Mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart added: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy for the loved ones left behind and, while the number of deaths has dropped in recent years, I remain committed to reducing suicide and providing support for those affected by this heartbreak.

“We provide annual funding of £300,000 to Public Health Scotland to provide support for local suicide prevention work, which helps communities implement local suicide prevention action plans.

"Our ambition is to get everyone working together to prevent suicide which is why we have been engaging with those affected to publish a prevention strategy for Scotland next month.

“This will set out how the Government, partners and local communities can come together to help prevent future suicides.”

If you are in need of support, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or FAMS on 01698 249 443.