Abby Cenerini wanted to acknowledge her friend Michael who died by suicide but she was not allowed to.

“School censors valedictorian’s speech to remove reference to student’s death.” By Danielle d’Entremont · CBC News

Please click on the above link to hear and see Abby read her Valedictorian speech and read the article by Danielle d’Entremont of CBC News.

When I lost my Dad to suicide in 1982 (36 years ago) I was in grade 12. When I returned to school, nobody talked about it. It made it harder. It made my trauma worse.

For the last 10 years we’ve been telling everybody to talk about suicide and to talk about mental health… Bell Let’s Talk! The Mental Health Commission along with Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health give awards for opening public dialogue on suicide and mental health. They even gave me a ‘Champions of Mental Health’ award for creating a pro-active dialogue on suicide, for smashing stigma and for getting people talking about suicide.

I wonder if Cole Harbour High School recognizes ‘Bell Let’s Talk Day.’ I wonder what training Cole Harbour High School teachers have in suicide. I wonder if Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) considered or implemented SafeTALK training for all staff after Rehtaeh Parsons died by suicide. I also know that SafeTALK training is a starting point and not the solution but it is critically important to learn to ask “are you thinking about suicide?” It’s also important to learn that we can do something about suicide. We are not helpless and I am certainly not hopeless.

Ironically, my first Collateral Damage Project exhibit started in Nova Scotia in 2010 and has travelled the province. There’s a guest book that travels with the exhibit and the written words from people who viewed the images and stories of those left behind by suicide are profound, beautiful and filled with gratitude. Beyond the kind words, I believe strongly that the images and stories have solutions and starting points for changes to curriculum, policy and legislation that could help people feel that their lives are worth living and could prevent suicide.

Perhaps the biggest message here is that we need a significant investment in research in Canada about suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth, a leading cause of death for middle aged men, and our suicide rates for Inuit and First Nations youth are some of the highest on the planet.

We need clear, consistent, evidence based messages for youth, families, policy makers, school boards, media, workplaces, parliamentarians and advocates.

We need substantial investment in suicide prevention in Canada.

Abby, our world needs more people like you because not talking about it isn’t working.

Thank you for making your voice heard,
Scott Chisholm

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