A St Andrews student is raising money and awareness of mental health issues after the community was rocked by the tragic death of two of his former schoolmates.
Lewis Hazel will mark his forthcoming 21st birthday in February by organising a charity concert in memory of two former Madras College pupils who took their own lives earlier this year.
He hopes to bring together friends, family and local people to highlight the importance of mental health to young adults.
The #GIG21 music event in St Andrews University’s Younger Hall will take place on February 16, to support the charities Breathing Space and Touched by Suicide Scotland.
“I know how hard it can be striving to do your best and be the best and the pressure this puts on all young people,” he said.
“I am currently in my fourth year at university studying for a Masters Degree in mechanical engineering, but life as a student and a young man can be difficult and challenging at times. You don’t always know who to turn to for help.
“Sadly in Scotland suicide, particularly in young men, is on the rise according to the statistics I have seen.
“People’s 21st birthdays always seem quite big but I just thought: ‘why would I have a big party for just myself when this has happened in such a small, close-knit community?’
“So I hope what I am doing will go some way to support those affected and help those charities trying to make a real difference to those directly affected.
“My hope is by bringing everyone together in our community for #GIG21, we can have a fun night, remember those we have lost but also raise awareness and money to help and save others affected by mental health and suicide.”
Lewis said he has been amazed and humbled by the support from local bands, hotels, businesses and St Andrews University, with a number of former pupils from Madras College who are involved in the music industry already agreeing to perform on the night.
A fundraising page has been set up with an initial target of raising £21,000, to be split 50/50 between Lewis’ chosen charities.
He said: “My hope would be that we reach £21,000, a significant amount, as it’s my age, the age of the boys we have lost and an incredible amount that could make a real difference.
“But it’s not really about any target – it’s about making sure people are aware of the issues surrounding mental health.
“I wouldn’t say I was best friends with the guys who lost their lives in recent months but Madras is such a close-knit community that you feel that you do know them.
“Even at break or lunchtime you are sitting about 10 feet away from these guys, you see them around St Andrews.
“It really just hits hard when you hear what’s happened.”