Collateral Damage: Those Left Behind by Suicide

Lakehead University welcomes new suicide prevention club

By Brittany McQueen, Contributor 

Collateral Damage Lakehead University is a new club at the Thunder Bay campus that is educating students about breaking the stigma surrounding suicide. This club is working hand in hand with Scott Chisholm, the founder of Collateral Damage. The goal is to bring his extraordinary project to LU.

PC: Scott Chisholm

This project aims to form a proactive dialogue around suicide and mental health through a series of photographs accompanied by stories of those who have lost loved ones to suicide. This powerful collection is displayed in a book and in touring gallery exhibits. Through this project, Chisholm would like individuals impacted by suicide “to be able to ‘find themselves’ within the book/exhibit and know that they are not alone.” This project also advocates heavily for ‘gatekeeping training’ as a way of continuing a knowledge-based dialogue for everyone. Gatekeeping training encourages curriculum, policy and legislation changes for education and training on suicide awareness and mental health. The aim is to provide factual and evidence based information on the topics of suicide and mental health across Canada.

Jasmine Bester and Cassandra Ferguson, students at Lakehead University, started working with Chisholm earlier this year to help students break the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. Their main goal is to bring this exhibit to campus for a day and to start a conversation. Ferguson says, “starting this dialogue is very important to make people more comfortable and aware of the resources we have available to us.” These resources include our very own Health and Counselling Centre and Student Accessibility Services. Other resources include mental health training such as SafeTALK, ASSIST, and Mental Health First Aid. The hope is that if enough students are interested in taking classes, they can work on hosting them here on campus.

A key component in the implementation of CDLU can be attributed to our enormous population of non-local students, many coming from other parts of the country and outside of Canada. People studying at Lakehead from outside of Thunder Bay will have the opportunity to feel comfortable, feel like they can speak up, and know that they have a safe place to talk and connect with people that have gone through similar struggles. Bester says, “when coming to a new place, like Thunder Bay, one might experience stress and anxiety that may lead to thoughts of suicide or other mental health struggles, but they need to know that they are not alone and there are people around them that want and know how to help.” The club will also be offering volunteer opportunities to help spread awareness to our community. Some potential volunteer opportunities include: Alpha Court, Children’s Aid Society, John Howard Society, Shelter House, and St. Joseph Care Group. Bringing awareness, whether you have experienced or are experiencing mental health issues or thoughts of suicide, is critical to making Lakehead an inclusive and safe place for students.

FOR ONLINE ONLY:

For more information on joining this club, feel free to contact Jasmine Bester at jkbester@lakeheadu.ca or Cassandra Ferguson at cafergus@lakeheadu.ca. If you would like to sign up for the club, visit LUSU’s website at https://clubs.lusu.ca/Directory/Join/ec56bf35-79d6-4442-8984-5a66a340b28c  and look for CDLU under clubs. To gather more information on Scott Chisholm’s project “Collateral Damage” visit his website at http://leftbehindbysuicide.org/.