The heartbroken mum of an aspiring doctor who was found dead last week hopes to form a support group in his memory.
The 18-year-old student’s mum, Alex MacLeod, believes he was “in a really dark place” at the time and his friends fear that being unable to return home to the Highlands during lockdown may have affected his mood.
Ms MacLeod is now encouraging others struggling with their mental health under the current circumstances to “please speak to someone”.
She said: “I would love to set up some sort of group in his name.
“He was studying to be a doctor and wanted to help people, and I’d like to think he can still help people through this.”
The medical student had left his flat to go for a walk, and his concerned friends raised the alarm when he never came home.
Following an extensive search involving police dogs, divers and a police helicopter, his body was discovered in a wooded area near Grandholm Drive on Wednesday.
Ms MacLeod said she was “heartbroken” at the news yet “humbled” at the support she has received.
She said: “The people who have been out searching, praying for us and sharing their words has meant so much.
“Two young police officers came to my door last week to tell me the news and even they ended up crying. One said ‘life’s not fair’.
“David must have been in a really dark place and hadn’t reached out to anyone. I would encourage anyone struggling to please, speak to someone.”
She added: “David was such a thoughtful, gentle and caring boy. God is getting me through this and helping me be strong, and I just want to thank everyone for their help.
“I hope his young friends are getting the support they deserve.
“I used to work for the Samaritans, and I know how reliant they are on donations.”
Mr MacLeod had moved from Ardersier to Aberdeen to study medicine, and had a close group of friends who said it was “out of character” when he disappeared.
They put up posters which are still clinging to lampposts in the area, and conducted their own searches across the city.
Jordan Fletcher, a close friend of David’s from Culloden Academy who now lives in Aberdeen, said: “I got a call at 5pm from David’s mum and she told me they’d found a body. I didn’t know what to say. It was heartbreaking.
“When his mum had first texted to say he’d gone missing and I was shocked, I’d never expected to hear those words.
“My dad and I went out for hours driving the streets around the city, and it turns out we drove one street away from where his body was found.
“I’m still confused about the whole thing and really don’t think this would have happened if not for lockdown, otherwise he would have gone home to his mum.”
Remembering his friend, he said he was “one-of-a-kind.”
He also thanked emergency services for their efforts.
He added: “David was the smartest, most kind person I know and cared so much for his friends. Both in Aberdeen and back home in Inverness.
“He was one-of-a kind.”
A fundraiser to cover funeral expenses, from which any excess will go to mental health charities, is available here.
If you are struggling and want to talk, Breathing Space is a free, confidential service which can be contacted on 0800 838 587.
Samaritans also offer a free and confidential emotional support service that never closes and can be contacted by calling 116 123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org