King's University College's campus is welcoming a permanent reminder about the importance of suicide prevention — a bright yellow bench.
Dubbed the Friendship Bench, Sam Fiorella, co-founder and director of the Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench campaign, unveiled the bench alongside Violette Khammad, president of King’s University College Students' Council, and Joe Henry, dean of students at King’s University College, on Tuesday Sept. 12.
The Friendship Bench campaign’s official hashtag, #yellowisforhello, emphasizes the importance of opening up dialogues of mental health and wellness on campus.
“When you say ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ to someone, it kind of reminds them that ‘Hey, someone cares about me’ or 'Hey, I’m not alone,’” explained Khammad. “The colour yellow is visible and it reminds you to take care of yourself and the people around you.”
During the grand opening, Fiorella shared a story with King’s students about how he had lost his son to depression and suicide.
Since the bench has been up, Khammad expressed that students have been curious. Although some may not know it's part of a mental health initiative, the bench does have a plaque with a URL that allows students to look up mental health resources within the community.
“It just reminded us that King’s really cares about social justice and progressive thinking,” said Khammad. “[The students] were really pleased that we participated in this initiative.”
Sponsored by both the KUCSC and King's, the bench is the first to be installed on a London campus and the 40th bench to be installed in Canada. It can be found near the King’s Student Life Centre.
In addition to the bench, Khammad said the organization will provide King's students with mental health training and resources.