On the last day at Social Media Camp in Victoria, I sat down and spoke with Sam Fiorella who shared a heartbreaking story and some shocking statistics with the attendees.
Sam's son committed suicide while in University and Sam spoke broadly about the serious issue of mental health and specifically the effect social media has on mental health.
It's a difficult problem to fix and an uncomfortable topic to discuss.
I was left with the thought that we are just unprepared and ill-equipped to wholly deal with this issue. Consider for example a story that Sam shared; after his son's passing, the University held a small ceremony where they posthumously awarded his son his degree and there is a staff member at the school who's full-time job is organizing these ceremonies.
In Canada there are about two student suicides every week…at every university. That's an epidemic, and those numbers are increasing as the pressures of life bear down on young people especially. Those pressures are only exacerbated by the online space and I think we need to take stock and educate ourselves about all of the resources available for people struggling with these issues.
We can't just retreat to our corners we have to reaffirm our commitment to helping each other.
If you're interested in learning more about Sam, his story, and his message you can visit his site here; Sam Fiorella
If you're interested in the organization Sam has started in an attempt to educate and combat youth suicide and mental health you can visit The Friendship Bench
Bell Let's Talk also does great work here in Canada and they have some excellent resources, especially their Conversation Guide which will help anyone who wants to be able to talk about these sensitive issues but who may not know how to.
My conversation and interview with Sam will be available in a few weeks on our Grey Matters Podcast.
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