Weeks after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that killed 16, many Canadians continue to think about the lives taken too soon. Kids Help Phone national youth council chair Ben Sabic is one of the people impacted by the lasting effects of the tragedy.
Sabic has served in a variety of roles in the amateur sports community and has travelled on a team bus on many occasions throughout his life, both as an athlete and as a coach. He said the news hit close to home for him.
“It makes you wonder what would have happened if it happened to your bus, or what would have happened if you sat in the wrong spot on the bus and that resulted in you being injured or even killed.”
“The reason it impacted other Canadians and other individuals around the globe is because it really could have happened to anyone, anyone’s team bus travelling to a tournament or a game,” Sabic said.
Sabic said he personally reached out to Humboldt Broncos management and the Saskatchewan hockey community to offer support.
“One of the hardest things about a tragedy like this for survivors is the mental toll,” Sabic said, adding that some survivors will battle a lot of guilt.
“Survivors will often look at photos of the accident and wonder why they chose that seat, or why they argued with the teammate for that seat, and that teammate may no longer be with us.”
The most important thing people can do for their mental health is talk about how they’re feeling, Sabic said. Otherwise “it can result in your mental health diminishing.”
The Kids Help Phone team created a #HumboldtStrong web page with resources and supports that anyone can access.
WATCH: Ben Sabic speaks about how Kids Help Phone is offering support to Canadians
Following the news of the incident, Kids Help Phone expanded their crisis text line service to Saskatchewan so that not just the survivors but also the families and other individuals impacted by the tragedy would have access.
“We’ve received a great response from youth in Manitoba so far so we thought it would be a good way for Kids Help Phone to support young people at a time of need,” Sabic said.
The original plan was to run a trial of the texting support service in Manitoba only, to gauge interest.
Now, the texting support service will continue to be available in Saskatchewan as well, so young people there and in Manitoba can text “CONNECT 686868” to receive a response from a trained crisis responder.
“We’re going to continue doing a six months service trial. At the completion of the trial we’ll look at our data and look at the response we received from text and from there we will determine where we should expand next in Canada,” Sabic said.
“Our texting service is unique in a sense because it’s staffed by volunteer crisis responders that undergo a thorough 30-hour training period.”
Paid, professional texting supervisors monitor the texting platform and offer coaching to volunteer crisis responders when needed, according to Kids Help Phone. The supervisors will step in if a situation escalates.
Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors will continue to provide counselling to young Canadians over the phone and through online live chat service.