THE HEARTBREAK of losing two male members of their family has spurred mum and daughter duo Tracey Edge and Melissa Rawlings to help spare another family the same pain.

As they run London’s 26-mile marathon this month wearing their t-shirts with the words ‘Dad’, ‘Husband’, ‘Brother’ and ‘Son’ emblazoned across them, along with the MIND logo, the pair from Bicester will feel mixed emotions.

The two people who would have been most proud of them won’t be there to share in their ecstasy.

Those two people are Andrew – husband to Tracey and dad to Melissa, and Marcus – Tracey’s son and Melissa’s younger brother.

Oxford Mail:

Pictured is Melissa and Marcus

Both took their own lives, Andrew on a railway line on January 16, 2009, and Marcus in the same way four years later aged just 19.

According to the latest figures from Oxfordshire County Council, there were 164 suicides in Oxfordshire between 2015 and 2017 - 131 of these were males.

ALSO READ: Male suicide - Oxfordshire psychiatrist urges men to speak out

Tracey explained the ‘downward spiral’ for Andrew started when he sold his business managing a petrol station in Chinnor in 2002.

She said: “He struggled to get another job. He did a sales rep job then building renovations. It was lonely and Andrew began a downward spiral.”

The 52-year-old said: “He felt like he didn’t have much to give the family. He talked about how lonely work was and once I found him in the garage crying but he would never talk about how he felt.”

By Christmas 2008 Andrew was incredibly withdrawn and on January 16, 2009, Tracey received the earth-shattering text from Andrew saying he loved her and goodbye.

Marcus , then 15, didn't appear to show much reaction after, but by September was skipping school.

Approximately a year after Andrew’s death Marcus got referred to a counsellor and Tracey went with him, but felt it was detrimental to his state of mind rather than helping.

Then, about fifteen months after Andrew’s death, Marcus posted on Facebook saying how unhappy he was and that he didn’t want to be here. Distraught, Tracey raced home in tears.

She said: "We hugged and Marcus reassured me that it wasn’t how it seemed and that he was OK."

In time, Marcus seemed to be doing better and as the family moved to Bicester Marcus and Melissa worked together in a bar, he had a girlfriend, a good group of friends and seemed happy.

Melissa said: "We were very close. He was the joker, like dad. Everyone in the bar loved him and he was handsome, kind and popular."

It was in April 2013, Marcus broke his right arm and couldn’t go skiing with friends, drive, or trial for the Army which his mum said started the 'downward spiral'.

On April 8, 2013, Tracey left for work while Marcus was asleep before receiving a call later that day from a friends mum saying Marcus had sent a goodbye text.

She said: "I knew it was true, I just knew that he was gone."

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Tracey added: "When the police confirmed Marcus’ death I felt overwhelming despair. I felt I had failed him.

"Then the realisation kicked in that I had to tell Melissa and I just didn’t know how to. I was so scared what impact a second tragedy was going to have on her."

The pair had found out that Marcus attempted to book a doctors appointment that same day, before taking his life in the same way as his dad.

Oxford Mail:

Pictured is Tracey and Andrew

Now, ten years since their agony began, they pair are trying to break the taboo around mental health and encourage other people to seek help.

Tracey said: "Marcus was so gentle and so deep, I wish he could have got help in time. I can’t change what happened, but I can change the future and I think there should be more help available."

Melissa said: "Although the Government need to do more for mental health support, I think us as individuals need to talk about it."

Tracey added: "Now I have no doubt that Andrew and Marcus were suffering from depression, and because they didn’t feel they could talk about it, they took their lives."

Tracey remarried four years ago, and Melissa lives in London with her partner and works as a financial analyst.

The mother and daughter are incredibly close, and as they pound the streets of London they hope to not only keep Andrew and Marcus’ memory alive, but also to help mental Health charity MIND prevent other families from experiencing what they have.

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