In May 2017, we are delighted to be the first school in NL to receive a yellow friendship bench. It will be placed in a prominent area of the school, renamed Companionship Cove surrounded by student art and inspiring quotes. Below, is the story of the Friendship Bench.
The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench campaign was created to continue the legacy of Lucas Fiorella who, after secretly suffering from depression, took his own life on October 12, 2014. Lucas was living with friends in Ottawa, Canada while attending Carleton University, where he studied Robotics, a discipline within the Computer Sciences faculty. While living in the dorms during his first year, Lucas was nominated to the faculty’s student council as student representative. He was constantly surrounded by friends while in study groups, skating on the Rideau Canal, working out at the gym, or snowboarding at nearby Mont Tremblant in Quebec. He seemed happy, made friends easily, and was often the “go to” guy when people needed a laugh or a hug. Indeed, his smile was infectious. Yet, unknown to his family and friends, Lucas was suffering with depression.Despite his hidden suffering, or perhaps because of it, throughout high school and university Lucas actively reached out to friends and strangers who were suffering with depression, anxiety or just the normal stresses of school, family, and life.
His death was a shock to all who knew the seemingly happy, silly, and funny student. That shock was the impetus for dozens of students to stand up reveal their stories of anxiety and depression and how Lucas reached out to them when no one else seemed to be paying attention, to lend an ear when others wouldn’t listen, to report their illnesses to their parents or to just sit alongside them in silence.
Further, the news of his death and secret illness inspired dozens more students who were also suffering in silence to report their condition to family, friends, and/or healthcare providers and are now getting the help they need.