A couple whose son took his own life are sharing their story in schools to help young people who might be in a similar position.
Hector Stringer was just 18 years old when he hanged himself at home in Chivery.
But five years on, Robert and Belinda Stringer want to make sure similar tragedies are avoided.
They have worked closely with Youth Connexions to create a session based on Hector which will be delivered at schools across the region.
Robert said: “Losing a child to suicide is one of the worst things a parent can live through.
“We want to tell our story because we feel passionate about making sure other families don’t go through what we have.
“Young people are not always aware that they are becoming depressed and gradually isolating themselves but talking about how they are feeling, being honest with someone who is able to listen, can make the world of difference.”
Keen guitarist Hector was a pupil at Goldfield Infants’, Bishop Wood and Tring School, as well as working as a waiter at Prezzo in the town.
Robert described Hector’s death as a ‘moment of madness’ but he thinks the new training programme can save lives.
He said: “The Youth Health Champion training is exactly the sort of initiative we need to encourage schools to adopt. If this stops just one other family from going through what we’ve been through, then all our efforts will have been worth it.”
The unit they are presenting examines theory to help build resilience in young people, exploring the roles of sleep and gratitude to boost self-awareness.
In Hertfordshire, three children in every class have a diagnosable mental health problem. The most common issues include conduct disorders, anxiety and severe ADHD.
The new unit is part of Youth Health Champions training, led by Hertfordshire County Council’s Youth Connexions.
Colette Wyatt-Lowe, chairman of Hertfordshire’s health and wellbeing board, said: “The effect of mental health conditions on young people can’t be underestimated and the earlier we can identify the problem, the better.
“We are working closely with schools to promote positive messages and practice around mental health to help young people both inside and outside the classroom.”