We’re all in this together, working towards the same goal.
To whom it may concern,
The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) is a national professional association representing over 4400 psychiatrists. As CPA’s current president, I am pleased to write this letter of support for Collateral Damage, Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide, as presented by Mr. Scott Chisholm.
The project is dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through education and advocacy. Unlike years ago when suicide was misunderstood and not talked about, today our understanding of the causes and prevention of suicide is improving and we are making progress toward reducing the social stigma that has surrounded the mental disorders that can lead to suicide. This understanding is due to projects such as Collateral Damage which deal directly with suicide and encourage healthy and safe conversation.
With the project’s strengths in the areas of survivors support, stigma reduction on suicide and mental illness and suicide prevention, it made it effortless for CPA to endorse it. The CPA was thrilled to support the work of Scott Chisholm at the CPA Annual Conference by showing the Collateral Damage invitation video at our opening gala to over 400 delegates from across Canada, hosting a silent auction and is looking forward to supporting Scott with his book and exhibit launch. Mr. Chisholm has pinpointed a rarely offered point of view about family members surviving a suicide, highlighting the psychological damages it can produce. Those family members left behind by suicide are at a greater risk of suicide themselves and this project gives them a healthy place to turn.
Suicide is a complex and devastating national public health problem in which mental illness plays a significant role. Every year in Canada approximately 4,000 people take their lives, meaning 10 people will take their life today and 90 per cent of these individuals have a diagnosable mental illness.
We wish Scott success and look forward to continued support and collaboration.
Dr. Suzane Renaud, President
Canadian Psychiatric Association
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention is proud to be a partner in the Collateral Damage Project and fully supports its goals and mission.
The Collateral Damage Project is an important and valuable initiative that draws much needed attention to the enormous affect on those bereaved by a suicide death. Sadly when someone dies by suicide the pain is not gone it is merely transferred to family, friends and communities. Their injuries and pain are mostly invisible and suffered in silence.
The Collateral Damage Project draws attention to this largely ignored issue offering hope and compassion to the thousands of people affected by a suicide death each year. Collateral Damage also plays an important role in promoting suicide prevention and awareness and information on what every person can do to support suicide prevention in their own family, neighborhood and community.
Jan. 23, 2011
To whom it may concern:
It is my great pleasure to write this letter in support for Left Behind by Suicide Inc. (not for profit) and in particular the project “Collateral Damage: Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide”. I am a clinical psychologist who has spent much of my career practicing, teaching and writing about the prevention of suicide. I have had the honour to participate in suicide prevention advocacy as a long-time member of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and former member of the CASP Board of Directors. I am also a Program Advisor to the Centre for Suicide Prevention and a member of the Provincial Advisory Board of the Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention.
The Collateral Damage Project conceived and created by Scott Chisholm has extraordinary potential in two related areas that have been repeatedly identified as critical to suicide prevention in Canada: public education and the reduction of stigma. The human impact of the project underlines one of the central themes of suicide prevention work: “Suicide is everybody’s business”. Scott Chisholm’s care in the selection, combination and presentation of images and stories provides a compelling and emotionally safe context for dialogue about suicide in this country and what can be done to prevent it and to ease the damage it leaves in its wake.
David Schachter, a former Surgeon General of the United States, once said that “Most of the work of suicide prevention must occur at the community level, where human relationships breathe life into public policy”. I believe that the Collateral Damage Project can help to evoke such relationships in Canadian communities, and to affirm for the thousands of Canadians affected annually by suicide that they are indeed part of a caring community.
I wholeheartedly endorse this eminently worthwhile effort in suicide awareness, prevention, and postvention.
Heather Fiske, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Link to; Heather Fiske letter of support
October 21, 2009
To Whom It May Concern:
As a child psychiatrist, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide, I am pleased to write this letter in support of Scott Chisholm and the Collateral Damage project.
Scott is on a mission to help ease the pain of those who have lost a loved one to suicide by telling their stories in photographs. His images are strong and effective in capturing the longing these survivors feel and showing how love lasts longer than death.
I look forward to seeing this project progress.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
Director of School Programs at Cambridge Health Alliance
Link to; Nancy Rappaport letter of support
October 19, 2012
RE: Support for the Collateral Damage Project
To raise the profile of suicide as an issue and to educate people in Waterloo Region in how every member can play a role in reducing the incidence of suicide, the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council brought Scott Chisholm to our community in 2010. Scott presented three times in one day reaching survivors, business leaders, the Pre-Firefighter program students at Conestoga College and students at Wilfrid Laurier University. His presentations were effective at providing survivor support and significantly reducing stigma reduction and are verified in the feedback forms.
One story that still resonates and one I share frequently, is the story of a woman who had lost her son to suicide just a couple of years before Scott’s presentation. After Scott’s presentation she tearfully told me how she hadn’t uttered the word suicide; she had felt too ashamed. But she resolved to change this following Scott’s presentation. She has since went on to host fundraisers in our community raising over $5,000 and volunteers her time managing the Council’s busy Facebook page.
Scott’s project is at the heart of stigma reduction conversations and suicide prevention efforts across our Country. It is our hope that you will financially contribute to this National Project.
Executive Director, Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council
The following is an excerpt. The full testimonial can be found here; Richard Ramsay, LivingWorks Testimonial
December 1, 2011
“I am pleased to write a letter of support for the potential I see in the Collateral Damage Project to become a mobilizing catalyst in Canadian suicide prevention that never seems to get sustained traction in our country.”
“It was a proud moment for me to share your work and dedication with everyone in our Calgary office. We will tell the story to the rest of our trainer network so they too can share the meaning of what Veronica’s story stands for in all our daily efforts to create suicide-safer communities in our home communities and elsewhere.”
Richard Ramsay, President
Calgary Alberta Canada
Re: “Collateral Damage: Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide”
The topic of death by suicide is important, but difficult to raise for thoughtful public comment. It is too easy to retreat into silence due to grief, shame and fear of sensationalist headlines. Nevertheless, death by suicide remains a major social issue which needlessly kills over 3000 persons each year in Canada – too many. And for each who dies by suicide, many others are touched by this abnormal death, and then need to deal with their own suffering.
The “Collateral Damage: Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide” project is one way to bring the topic of suicide into awareness in a thoughtful and respectful manner. It allows the discussion of the impact of suicide, the ripples which continue for years without any sensational headlines or particular focus on the manner of death. I believe it invites the community to consider what we can do to change ourselves to help more people before they get to the point of considering suicide, as well as those bereaved by suicide. This is the kind of public debate which is required, one on one, quiet but meaningful consideration.
I fully support “Collateral Damage: Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide”, and hope that others will endorse and promote this project as one means of bringing the topic of suicide to attention. I believe it invites discussion without increasing the problem of stigma. Indeed, one of the primary signs of stigma is forced silence, and it is time we talked.
Michael Trew MD, FRCPC
Senior Medical Director, Addiction & Mental Health
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express our strong support for the project, Collateral Damage, Images of Those Left Behind by Suicide, as presented by Mr. Scott Chisholm.
The impact of suicide from the perspective of the survivor is a story that has not been well told.
We believe that such a resource would be a valuable asset as an education tool in expanding community knowledge about the terrible toll on those left behind by suicide. Given the planned focus of the project on aboriginal and non aboriginal survivors such a book would be a welcome asset to any organization or community who focus on intervention through awareness and education.
In our work as a provider of suicide intervention training on an ongoing basis, we would anticipate using such a resource to supplement our education efforts. Such a tool would be of a value to any organization or academic setting engaged in similar training activities.
We look forward to working with Mr. Chisholm in bringing this important project to fruition.
Link to; Maurice Fortin letter of support
January 17, 2011
To Whom it May Concern:
I wish to take a moment to convey the great importance of Left Behind by Suicide Inc (non-profit organization) and the Collateral Damage Project, organizations dedicated to facilitating enhanced social awareness about the significance of suicide and the stigma that surrounds it. As attested to by Project founder Scott Chisholm and thousands of Canadians across the country, living with the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide is an especially challenging experience in our society. These organizations that Mr. Chisholm has developed with others in recent years have begun to provide the supports, forums and images necessary for those in pain to move along their journey of healing.
I became aware of Mr. Chisholm’s work on the Collateral Damage Project in my efforts to deal with the suicides of patients within the mental health system in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Like other mental health clinicians across Canada, we are sometimes unable to prevent suicide and find ourselves dealing with the tragedy of losing those in our care in this tragic way. Grieving and responses to suicide among professionals, and implications for subsequent care, are a relatively poorly understood and unexplored set of issues which can tie in the Project’s work in some fashion. The Project’s focus on elevating dialogue and addressing stigma are certainly essential, from my experience, in the social-professional microcosm of the health field.
Over the last year I have found my correspondence and contact with Mr. Chisholm to be very positive, straight-forward and refreshing. He brings great passion to this cause and has a wonderful capacity to build relationships with people from many different streams of society. The creative and artistic aspects of the Collateral Damage project, blending visual images and personal accounts, serve as very powerful routes to conveying the human experience of the aftermath of suicide. By giving voice and power to those who have lost loved ones to suicide, he has tapped into a means of communication that allows everyone to appreciate the breadth of the issue and how far we need to go as a society in making progress on these issues.
For these reasons I strongly encourage financial support for these initiatives. I have no doubt that such support will go some substantial way to saving lives and also to helping those at risk of getting lost along the way in the aftermath of suicide.
Andrew Starzomski, Ph.D., Registered Psychologist (Nova Scotia)
Capital Health Mental Health Program, Halifax, N.S.
Link to; Andrew Starzomski letter of support
The following is an excerpt. The full testimonial can be found here; Angela Davis_Letter of Support – Collateral Damage
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Collateral Damage Project in all of its various aspects brings a great deal to the realm of suicide prevention in our country. Through this work Scott is a great advocate for the destigmatization of suicide and most especially of those left behind. He has helped add a very public face and voice to the debate about our need for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy.
Through Collateral Damage Scott has created a mechanism with which to begin the all important dialogue about suicide. As Collateral Damage so aptly states: Not Talking About it Isn’t Working. I applaud Scott, the Advisors of the Collateral Damage Project and most especially all of those survivors who have had the courage to face the stigma head on and to be a visible part of this all important initiative.
Congratulations on starting a dialogue that will promote healing and save lives here in Canada and beyond.
Manager, Communities Addressing Suicide Together
The following is an excerpt. The full testimonial can be found here; J_Brasch letter of support
October 18, 2012
“I was deeply moved by the photos you displayed at the CASP conference. Your beautifully composed images framed alongside the words of each subject are attractive and thought provoking. It seemed to me that the images and words complemented each other- I wanted to look at the photos, which were enriched by the text, and the words of each suicide loss survivor led me to study their photo more closely. I noticed that many people viewing your exhibit were drawn to look at each of your framed photographs-they didn’t just glance at one or two and walk away.
I admire your commitment to speaking openly about suicide and suicide loss. Your practical, pragmatic recommendations to help prevent suicide are delivered calmly and sensitively. Your presentation skills support and strengthen the value of your photography project. Suicide is a difficult topic in many settings, and your photos and balanced presentations do much to make the subject accessible and acceptable to discuss.”
Jennifer Brasch, MD, FRCPC
Lead Researcher, The Reason to go on Living Project
Medical Director, Psychiatric Emergency Service
St. Joseph’s Healthcare
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences