Camille Boucher says everyone who knew her brother Alexandre was blindsided when he took his own life.
Alexandre, a first year Criminal Justice student, committed suicide in February 2016. And on Monday the first suicide prevention lecture — named after Boucher’s brother — was held at Humber’s Lakeshore campus.
The lecture attracted a mixture of students but consisted mostly of freshmen from the same program as Alexandre.
“What could I have done?” Boucher said. “He may not have wanted help.”
One in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem in any given year, according to a report by RiskAnalytica.
Derek Stockley, the Dean of Social and Community Services, compared mental illness to a plane crash.
“It’s important to help yourself before others,” he said. “Only then can you turn to the person beside you and help them.”
Andrew Poulos, a student wellness counsellor, said listening to others can go a very long way.
Poulos said it’s not harmful to ask a person outright if they are considering suicide even though it’s a delicate topic.
“We can’t prevent people from having those thoughts,” he said. “But what we can do is prevent someone from acting on them.”
Poulos said suicide isn’t something that’s normally talked about because of the fear and stigma behind it.
“Anybody is vulnerable to suicide,” Poulos said. “It occurs across all ages, economic and ethnic boundaries.”
Mental Health First Aid Workshops are in progress for Humber staff to be better equipped to help students with mental illness.
The speakers gather after the lecture around the Friendship Bench, was given by Lucas Fiorella after his son committed suicide.
The purpose of the bright yellow bench in the Student Concourse is to remind people know they don’t have to suffer in silence.
“A simple hello can go a long way,” Fiorella said.