THE parents of a 15-year-old boy who took his own life in a churchyard last week have spoken of the pain of losing their “little angel”, and their commitment to discussing mental health with other teenagers.

Elido Enmanuel Vargas, from Burgess Hill, was reported missing on Tuesday afternoon after he told his father he was going to school.

He never arrived at Burgess Hill Academy. His body was found on Thursday afternoon in the grounds of St John The Evangelist church in Lower Church Road in the town. An inquest will be opened but police are not treating the death as suspicious.

On Friday and again on Saturday, memorial services were held there in his memory, attended by hundreds of his school friends and members of the community.

Elido Manuel Vargas, the boy’s father, told The Argus his son had shown no signs of being unhappy.

He said: “He was always a kind, friendly, smiley child. He was very very kind with babies and little children - especially with his brothers, he always looked after them.

“I told him, ‘You’re the biggest, like me, you have to look after them. You have to set an example.’ And he did.

“He was a little angel who came and walked among us.

“And he knew always to provide his love for the people around him.”

Elido junior came to the UK from his father’s native Dominican Republic shortly before his tenth birthday.

Elido senior’s wife Eiren knew him from the age of three.

He always called her mum, just as the couple’s three younger sons aged eight, five and one were his brothers at their home in Millers Way.

She said: “He doted on his brothers. He just loved carrying the baby around, and giving him his breakfast, and if I ever needed to do anything he’d give him cuddles.

“He was very kind and thoughtful.

“He had fun at school, he was good and yes he got into a little trouble sometimes, like any teenager. But he’d also cover up for his friends.

“He was happy go lucky. And so popular. People always said he never had a mean word for anyone. If he could see people needed help, he’d want to help them.”

The couple insist more should be done to inform young people about the dangers of mental illness.

Elido senior said: “This has changed my life and I want to contribute to others not taking the same decision that my son did.

“I feel there must be more done to talk to children about mental health issues.”


FOR almost an hour they filed into the little red brick church in the centre of the town.

Young and old, teachers and school friends, and many too who never met the little boy with the big smile, came to grieve with each other and to express their love and their loss.

Almost a thousand have come to mourn at the church of St John The Evangelist in Burgess Hill in the last two days, at the place 15 year old Elido Vargas spent his last moments; the place where he took his own life.

After the short memorial service finished, Father Kevin O’Brien lit the first of dozens of candles which would burn in the young man’s memory.

And his congregation followed suit, first one at a time, then in twos and threes, and then in bunches of half a dozen at a time as Elido’s young school friends moved in packs to show their respect.

Even this moment of grief, it seems, does not trump that teenage angst which says: do not be an outsider, do not walk alone, never act without the safety of a crowd.

It is that teenage anxiety, and the terrible tragic consequences it can bring, which Elido’s parents are now iron-willed in their commitment to discuss.

His father - also called Elido - told The Argus: “Our plan, is in time we’ll get to a stage where we can talk to a school.

“To talk to people about this, and to get people to talk.

“These are the most difficult years, when kids are 13 to 17, they are the most traumatic years, and they have so many emotions, they don’t always know if there is a danger or if they are on the wrong path.

“They need to talk to somebody. If you don’t talk, you won’t receive help.”

His mother Eiren said: “I want schools to get better at talking about mental health.

“Early intervention is so important. People don’t perceive it like an illness, people don’t talk about it. Sometimes you don’t realise there’s something wrong.”

Outside the church hundreds of flowers have been laid, with tributes to a “beautiful boy” who “brought joy into the lives of everyone around him”.

One tribute read: “We are so sorry you went through this pain. This means a lot because it could have been me. I felt these emotions too.”

After the service one of Elido’s teachers told The Argus: “He was always so happy - always had such a huge smile on his face. He was always thinking of other people and making other people smile.”

His parents said they had no indication Elido was unhappy.

From the pulpit of St John’s on Saturday, Father O’Brien told his flock in his sonorous baritone: “Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.

“If it is you, be gentle with yourself.”

Amid the anguish of their loss, Elido’s family are asking themselves, their community, and each of us: are we doing enough to teach our children to be gentle with themselves?


AFTER attending a memorial service at St John The Evangelist church on Friday, Elido Vargas’s father went to where some of Elido’s friends had gathered in the graveyard.

He told The Argus: “I said to them, ‘Something was troubling the mind of my son, but he did not know how to tell that to someone else.’

“So in his memory I want them to know, if you have something troubling your mind, talk to someone.

“Talk to a teacher, talk to an adult, or to your friends, but you must talk. That’s how something good comes out of this.”

Eiren said: “I was so proud of him. And I think maybe people in our situation should be going and talking to young people.

“I want schools to get better at talking about mental health. Early intervention is so important.

“People don’t perceive it like an illness, people don’t talk about it. Sometimes you don’t realise there’s something wrong.

“It totally blindsided us. He was happy. There was no sign.”

The couple have asked The Argus not to publish their photographs or professions at this difficult time but wish to thank friends for the kindness and support they have received.

There are a range of services available for those suffering mental health issues, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

The Samaritans are available to anyone “whatever you are going through” and can be called at any time of the day or night on 116123 for free, from any phone.

Alternatively you can email

Mental health charity Mind has a section of its website devoted to providing help and advice for those in crisis, at

It includes advice on how to distract yourself if it is difficult to cope with immediate feelings and pressures, and how to help yourself cope.

The Sussex Mental Healthline for support and information is 0300 5000 101.