Vic­tim of ho­mo­pho­bic abuse takes his own life as cam­paign­ers de­mand bet­ter men­tal health care

Diver en­dured hate­ful calls af­ter com­ing out

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS - By Sally Mcdon­ald SMCDONALD@SUNDAYPOST.COM

The vic­tim of a cam­paign of men­ac­ing, ho­mo­pho­bic abuse later killed him­self, a court heard.

Scott Mcin­tosh was dev­as­tated af­ter be­ing tar­geted by for­mer school­mate Kevin Edgar.

Af­ter com­ing out as gay, Scott, a deep sea diver from Aberdeen, en­dured a se­ries of hate­ful calls from Edgar, an oil rig worker, and, friends say, he slid into de­pres­sion.

Af­ter strug­gling with men­tal health is­sues, Scott, 28, took his own life.

On Wed­nes­day, Edgar, 29, ad­mit­ted a charge of mak­ing ob­scene phone calls, ag­gra­vated by prej­u­dice re­lat­ing to sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

A source close to Scott said he had suf­fered ter­ri­bly from months of abuse and that, while the calls had hap­pened 20 months be­fore his sui­cide, they had been a fac­tor in plung­ing him into de­pres­sion.

He said: “Scott did suf­fer. These ho­mo­pho­bic emails and calls had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on Scott’s men­tal health. Ul­ti­mately I would say they did con­trib­ute to his sui­cide.”

His fam­ily have de­clined to com­ment but cam­paign­ers have called for more help for those suf­fer­ing men­tal health is­sues and a crack­down on hate crimes.

G las­gow Sh e r i f f Co u r t heard last week how Edgar had known Scott since school. In Au­gust last year, when he was on trips to Eng­land and Glas­gow, Scott re­ceived a num­ber of anony­mous calls but recog­nised Edgar’s voice.

De­pute fis­cal Lori Pid­geon told the court that Edgar made a se­ri­ous of ob­scene, ho­mo­pho­bic in­sults to Scott in the calls.

Edgar, of Glebe Ter­race, Kirk­ton of Skene, Aberdeen­shire, was orig­i­nally charged un­der the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act 2003 with mak­ing threat­en­ing phone calls and “elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions mes­sages” to Scott over four months.

But he pleaded guilty to a re­duced charge that con­cerned only calls made by him on Au­gust 28, 2016, which it was said were “grossly of­fen­sive or of an in­de­cent, ob­scene or men­ac­ing char­ac­ter” and con­tained “ho­mo­pho­bic re­marks”.

Sher­iff Va­lerie Mays said Edgar’s pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions in­clude an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour and breach of the peace and or­dered back­ground re­ports to be car­ried out be­fore Edgar is sen­tenced next month.

Scott, who had a four- year- old son, started his work­ing life as a joiner be­fore be­com­ing an off­shore rig­ger and even­tu­ally train­ing as a sat­u­ra­tion diver work­ing at ex­treme depths.

A source said: “Scott had ev­ery­thing to live for, be­com­ing a fa­ther was the piv­otal point in his life. He loved his son so much. He was a won­der­ful fa­ther and did so much with him when they were to­gether. It’s heart-break­ing.

“Hun­dreds of peo­ple turned out for his fu­neral at A b e rd e e n Cre­ma­to­rium in March. It was packed out. There were peo­ple stand­ing out­side. Ev­ery­one was cry­ing.”

Now his friends want to see more ef­fec­tive men­tal health in­ter­ven­tion.

One said: “If you stand on a nail and you go to ac­ci­dent and emer­gency, they will see you and treat you for that mi­nor in­jury. But we are lack­ing a place for peo­ple who feel so down at a spe­cific mo­ment in time that they want to take their own lives. There should be some­where you can walk in and get that im­me­di­ate help. Peo­ple are suf­fer­ing and young males es­pe­cially don’t want to com­mu­ni­cate be­cause they see it as a weak­ness. There’s a stigma. We have to break those bar­ri­ers down.”

In the last five years, more than 2,600 men have taken their own lives in Scot­land, in­clud­ing 522 last year.

Mean­while, of­fi­cial fig­ures show that sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion ag­gra­vated crime is the sec­ond most com­mon type of hate crime. The num­ber of charges re­ported in­creased by 3 % in 2017-18 to 1,112.

A sur­vey pub­lished by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment this year re­vealed that two in five LGBT peo­ple have ex­pe­ri­enced an in­ci­dent be­cause of their gen­der, such as ver­bal ha­rass­ment or phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

How­ever, more than nine in 10 of the most se­ri­ous in­ci­dents went un­re­ported to the po­lice, be­cause re­spon­dents thought “it hap­pens all the time”.

Mon­ica Lennon MSP, Labour spokes­woman for health, said: “Scott’s sui­cide is a tragedy his loved ones should never have had to en­dure.”

She wel­comed moves an­nounced last week to teach Scots pupils about LGBT rights but said bet­ter sup­port for those suf­fer­ing poor men­tal health must also be de­liv­ered.

“Any­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing poor men­tal health or con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide needs ac­cess to the right sup­port ser­vices.”

A n n i e We l l s ,

MSP, and mem­ber of the equal­i­ties and hu­man rights com­mit­tee, said: “Scot­land has made a lot of progress when it comes to tack­ling ho­mo­pho­bia. But this hor­rific case shows there is still a long way to go.”

First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon has made a com­mit­ment to im­prove men­tal health care in Scot­land with a new pack­age of sup­port in­clud­ing hun­dreds of new coun­sel­lors and nurses. She has also promised im­proved ac­cess to psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment and ther­apy in ru­ral ar­eas and strength­en­ing of the han­dling of men­tal health calls to the 111 ser­vice.

Scott’s col­leagues and friends have con­trib­uted to an on­line cam­paign to raise money for Scott’s son.

We have made progress but this shows more is needed

Scott Mcin­tosh took his own life. Hun­dreds at­tended his fu­neral

Scott work­ing as a deep sea diver

Kevin Edgar

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