Since their beloved son Hector took his own life in 2011, Robert and Belinda Stringer of Chivery near Tring have done everything in their power to ensure no other family has to go through what they’ve gone through.
Now Hector’s House, the website resource they set up in his name, has gained charitable status and it will be easier for them to raise money to help others.
But it’s a bitter sweet time for the couple who have campaigned tirelessly since the 18-year-old’s death.
Financial advisor Robert says: “We think about him every day. Mostly we can deal with it but occasionally it hits us really hard.
“What’s so shocking is that every two hours there’s another suicide. Every time you hear the story it breaks your heart. You can’t just stand by and do nothing.”
Which is why the Stringers have thrown themselves heart and soul into Hector’s House, raising the profile of mental health issues and offering young people support when they’re going through a crisis, as well as being there for their parents.
Belinda – deputy manager at a dog rescue centre –says: “People can feel very isolated because mental health is a bit of a dirty word. We need to bring it out into the open.”
Robert emphasises: “We need to break the stigma about mental health and suicide. We need to give young people the tools to deal with it, because it is preventable.
“There are signs when someone is spiralling out of control into depression . . a feeling of being alone, hopeless, panicky. If you notice someone is unhappy, anxious, angry . . . say ‘Let’s talk about it.’”
Belinda adds: “Find out where it’s coming from. Take time to listen, and let them open up.
“Sometimes it needs medical intervention but the most important thing is to keep talking.”
The charity is working with Youth Connexions to fund education in emotional wellbeing in schools. They are hoping to roll out the programme out across the country.
The Stringers – who have two other children – still find it hard to understand why their vibrant, outgoing son is no longer with them.
By all accounts he was a charming and talented free spirit who had everything to live for. The former Tring School pupil was in the band Littlewolf, had lots of friends and a loving, supportive family.
“He was so special,” Belinda says. “Everyone loved him.”
> Visit www.hectorshouse.org.uk/