LAKE WORTH, Fla. – Palm Beach State College’s Belle Glade campus held a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 26 to unveil a suicide prevention and awareness bench on campus.
The bench, located on the patio entrance of CRA (Classrooms A) building, is the second to be placed on a PBSC campus.
Those in attendance included South Bay Commissioner Dr. Esther Berry and Lisa Wilson, aide to Palm Beach County District 6 Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.
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. 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.
“GOING ON INTERNALLY” According to Cindy Nadelbach, Josh, who died in May of 2018, was planning his life when he passed away. He visited Perez in Orlando just days before and wanted to go back to school at PBSC in August that same year.
“That’s the part of mental health that we don’t understand,” Nadelbach said. “Someone can look okay and smile, but you don’t see what’s going on internally. That’s why I wanted to bring awareness.”
Nadelbach also said that more people are committing suicide now due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s all you hear about and it’s not okay. We need to get rid of the stigma and bring it out in the open so everybody can talk about it. When you do, it saves lives.”
The bench is inscribed with the 1-800273-8255 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 Treasure Coast residents to get access 24 hours a day, seven days a week to information referrals, telephone counseling and crisis intervention services.
“Suicides and suicide attempts impact families, friends, colleagues and communities,” said Belle Glade campus Executive Dean Dr. LaTanya McNeal, who asked attendees to take a moment of silence during the ceremony in remembrance of those lost to suicide.
“We are so very happy that due to the generous donation of Josh’s Benches for Awareness, we will have a bench at the PBSC Belle Glade campus that provides telephone numbers and a text option for individuals to contact someone if they just need to talk or are dealing with depression and anxiety, which ultimately can help save a life.”
PBSC Director of Student Well Being Robin Russo, who also attended the event, added “These benches are invaluable in raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with reaching out for help. We are so grateful for this addition to our campus.”
Russo said, the PBSC Student Counseling Center, which strives to support all students who are experiencing emotional difﬁculties, sees 80% of students identify anxiety and stress as having a signiﬁcant impact on their lives with 30% also reporting either passive or active suicidal ideation.
Nationally, around 1,100 college students commit suicide every year, and 24,000 attempt to take their own lives, according to mental health statistics.
The ﬁrst PBSC suicide awareness bench was installed in 2019 on the Lake Worth campus. For more information on Josh’s Benches for Awareness, visit joshsbenches.com.