Donations collected for youth support service in name of boy, 15, who died

Fifteen-year-old Harrison Helliwell, who died suddenly at his home in Oak Bay on Sunday, was an “extraordinary person” with a twinkle in his eye, says a fundraising page in his honour.

The St. Michaels University student is missed greatly by friends and family, says the St. Paul’s Foundation donation page, which had raised $33,000 Friday for Foundry, a youth counselling and peer-support centre for mental health and substance use.

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“[We] hope that donations to Foundry can help to spare even one family from the pain of losing a child,” the page says.

On Sunday, St. Michael’s sent an email to parents and guardians informing them of the boy’s death and that extra support and counsellors and pastoral services would be in place for students and the school community. The chaplain opened the chapel to allow students to have another venue and time to reflect.

“It is with a heavy heart that I write in haste with the tragic news that we were informed this afternoon of the passing of one of our Grade 10 day students, Harrison Helliwell,” head of school Mark Turner wrote on Sunday, offering condolences to the family. “They will be held uppermost in our thoughts and prayers.”

Communications director Stuart Hill said the school could not comment further on the unexpected death, but noted students and faculty have had access to additional help if needed.

Oak Bay High School principal Tom Aerts sent a similar message to parents and guardians because Helliwell had attended Grade 9 there and planned to return for Grade 11.

“We have reached out to the family and they have given us permission to share with our community that he died unexpectedly on Sunday,” he wrote. “We hope you will share this sad news with your child.”

Oak Bay High also provided extra counselling and support services to students and the school community this week.

The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed Thursday it is investigating a death in Greater Victoria over the weekend.

Oak Bay Police said they attended the sudden death of a youth on Sunday but on Thursday referred all follow-up questions to the coroner. Foul play is not suspected in the death, police said. No possible cause of death was provided.

The family has asked for privacy.

Foundry has 11 centres in B.C, including two on the Island in Victoria and Campbell River, with another two planned in the Comox Valley and Port Hardy. No referrals are required and the services are free.

Foundry, aimed at people ages 12 to 24, offers mental health and substance use support and helps youth access everything from employment to primary health care. It also offers counselling and information services through the Foundry BC app, by phone, by text and video and online at foundrybc.ca.

Foundry also help for youth to access everything from employment to primary health care.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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