Suicide prevention is at the centre of a new bright yellow bench sitting in the Andrews Building at Lethbridge College.
Named in honour of an Ontario student who died by suicide in 2014, the Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench will hopefully serve as a place to begin a conversation.
Lucas’s father, Sam Fiorella, says “young people don’t want to talk about mental health with their parents or professionals. They want to talk to their peers and know they’re not alone, and we see that then leads to them approaching their parents or professionals for help.”
The bench is a physical reminder to students to take a moment to talk or think about their mental health and the mental health of their friends.
Yellow benches have been installed in 64 post-secondary institutions and high schools across Canada, a number that will reach 80 by the end of the current academic year.
Fiorella says, where schools make statistics available, after a Friendship Bench has been on campus for six months or longer, officials report an increase of between 18 and 20 per cent in the number of kids asking for help from professionals.