A teenager who spent his 18th birthday in a coma after attempting to take his own life following the deaths of two of his close friends has inspired a new suicide-awareness charity.

George Rabbett-Smith was 17 when his parents David and Hilary returned home to find he had attempted suicide on June 4 last year.

They managed to perform CPR on their son who was airlifted from their home in Bowes, County Durham, to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he has been ever since.

His parents have now launched charity ‘I’m George’s Mate’ hoping no one else goes through the same battle as their son.

Dad David Smith, an assistant headteacher, said: “We knew he had been struggling, but we didn’t realise the extent to which it affected him.

“He was really badly affected by the deaths of two of his close friends – one died in a car crash a few weeks earlier and another had a heart attack and died.

The Northern Echo: Hilary, George and David.Hilary, George and David. (Image: FAMILY)

“We tried to support him and had gone to the doctors to ask for help but the CAMHS waiting list was two years.

“We went out for about half an hour, came back, and came into the house and found him there. It was very much panic.

“It was completely out of the blue.

“My wife, my stepdaughter and myself took turns to resuscitate him performing CPR.

The Northern Echo: George Rabbett-Smith.George Rabbett-Smith. (Image: FAMILY)

“We were told he had 48 hours to live, and we had to get all the family in to hospital to see him.

“Now he’s stable and off ventilation, he’s not attached to any machines.

“There’s no way of knowing what the future holds but any progress will be slow, we just don’t know. He’s started to blink for yes and no but that’s it.”

The family have been visiting George in hospital daily since June.

George was in a coma for his 18th birthday in November and was in hospital over Christmas.

He will soon be moved to a specialist rehab hospital in Walkergate, Newcastle.

His family launched the ‘I’m George’s Mate’ charity in his name initially to give them a focus while George fought for his life in hospital.

It now aims to educate young people on suicide.

The charity had a parliamentary launch in December attended by several of the region's MPs, including Blaydon MP Liz Twist whose husband died by suicide.

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here.

David added: “Knowing how it had affected him with his friends’ deaths we didn’t want his friends to feel apart from what had happened to George. Between his friends and family we decided that starting up a charity would be a purposeful thing to do.

“In the early days it gave us a real focus – something to keep us going when George was touch and go.

“The aim is to provide suicide education courses for schools, providing funding for them to access courses or we are aiming to create a full course that will be accredited that schools can use.”

If you are in need of support you can contact the following:

- Samaritans is available, day or night, 365 days of the year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

- If U Care Share on 0191 387 5661 or text IUCS to 85258

- SANE on 07984 967 708, Calm on 0800 58 58 58

- Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust crisis line 0800 0516 171.