Suicide awareness bench unveiled on Lake Worth campus
Palm Beach State College unveiled a bright yellow new bench on the Lake Worth campus today to help raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health.
The bench was installed near the water fountain in the heavily trafficked Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, a popular spot for student events. It is inscribed with the 1-800-273-8255 phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as the local 2-1-1 Helpline number and 898211 text code for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast residents to get access 24 hours a day, seven days a week to information referrals, telephone counseling and crisis intervention services.
Josh’s Benches for Awareness, a nonprofit mental health organization, donated the bench. Wellington couple Barry and Cindy Nadelbach cofounded the organization with Victor Perez in memory of their 21-year-old son whom they lost to suicide last year. Perez was Josh’s best friend. Their mission is to educate youth and young adults about suicide prevention and awareness and provide resources in a visible manner through the benches.
They partnered with Jeff Industries, a nonprofit organization, which constructs and delivers the benches. This is the eighth installation of the benches since the organization launched last November and the first placed on a college campus. There are plans to install additional benches throughout the county and beyond, Cindy Nadelbach said. She said it was special for her to have a bench at the College to help others as her son, who had attended the College, helped people.
President Ava L. Parker, J.D. said she is proud to partner with the organization.
“We are very blessed to accept this donation from Josh’s Benches as a symbol of our commitment to creating greater awareness to this very important issue,’’ she said at the unveiling. “We are continuing our efforts as a community partner and servant to bring much needed awareness to a very important topic. Today marks a touchstone moment for the College as we place this bench here to increase the visibility of the services that exists to help those who are in need when it comes to mental health and the thought of suicide.”
Palm Beach State College provides numerous services to help students, including a Collegewide Counseling Center, which also provides access to mental health counseling and other services.
Robin Russo, PBSC’s director of student wellbeing who oversees the counseling, cited stats indicating that one in 12 college-age students had an active suicide plan. “As a mom, as a human being, as a therapist, I’ve been touched both personally and professionally by suicide. Although we look at the statistics, and we know that suicide is on the rise in our country and in our county, at the counseling center, we treat our students as human beings not just as a number.”
She encouraged anyone who needs help to seek it. “We can’t tell by looking at someone if what we see on the outside is what they are feeling on the inside. Suicidal thoughts and mental illness do not affect any one group, any one age, or any one population. We all experience it, so we can’t generalize. We have to treat everybody with dignity and respect and realize they may be struggling on the inside.”