Christoforos Nicolaou: Couple set up web safety charity after son's death

 1 year ago
source link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-64744862
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Christoforos Nicolaou: Couple set up web safety charity after son's death

35 minutes ago
George and Areti Nicolaou in front of a wall of family pictures
Image source, Jamie Niblock/BBC
Image caption,
George and Areti Nicolaou say they want to save lives and stop parents going through the same thing

The parents of a teenager who took his own life after joining an online forum where he received "horrific messages" have set up a charity encouraging teenagers to spend less time online.

Christoforos Nicolaou, 15, was found unconscious at his family home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire in March 2022.

The charity aims to support parents worried about their children.

"We can't do anything for our son any more but they can save their kids," his mother said.

George Nicolaou, 52, and Areti Nicolaou, 49, said they noticed a relatively sudden change in their son's behaviour but never expected what happened.

Image source, CCF
Image caption,
Christoforos Nicolaou was 15 when he took his own life

Christoforos was a "well-liked child" who loved sports and cooking and always wanted to help others, his parents said.

Mr Nicolaou said his son changed from being a "happy, prosperous" child in the last 40 to 50 days of his life.

"When you have a son like that, your mind doesn't go to bad things. He was always talking, if upset," Mrs Nicolaou said.

Apart from appearing more withdrawn, he also began watching horror movies late at night, eating quickly before returning to his bedroom and complaining of headaches.

It was not until after Christoforos's death that his parents discovered he had been involved in at least one online forum where he was sent "horrific messages".

Mr Nicolaou said: "I opened his laptop and I found very horrific conversations through a particular forum. Horrific conversations."

Image source, CCF
Image caption,
His parents say his behaviour changed suddenly but they never imagined he would take his own life

His mother said one person spent days telling him to try ending his life, with their last message ending: "Are you dead?"

They have set up the Chistoforos Charity Foundation (CCF) as a legacy for their son.

Mr Nicolaou said: "Our house is empty, we're living for everyone else now.

"It's just the two of us... helping parents and children."

He said they wanted to parents to "be a bit more alert to what children are up to" and to encourage children to enjoy "fun activities" in the "outside world".

"Try to talk with your kids, find a way. Parents know their kids, so we need to find a way to talk to them to try to get inside their mind. I know it's difficult - they're teenagers - but we have to try. We can't do anything for our son any more but they can save their kids," Mrs Nicolaou said.

Image source, CCF
Image caption,
Areti Nicolaou says she wants to help parents find ways to talk to their children

"Every parent would say: "My son? Never". We were them, but trust me, it happens, it does. It could be one of them god forbid but we want to put a stop to it and that's why we set up this charity," Mr Nicolaou said.

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