Hey Laurentian School of Education students,

Please leave your comments below on what you thought about our talk this morning on suicide. I believe that what we are currently doing to prevent suicide in schools, as Rick Mercer put it “its not good enough.”

I am excited about our session coming up in an hour and I will be adding more to my comments after we talk.

20 thoughts on “Laurentian University, School of Education

  1. Thank you so much speaking to us. It was extremly powerful and it really made me realize the impact that suicide can have on my future students and potentially in my own life (which i really hope is never the case) But none the less you have opened my eyes to the importance of suicide awareness. Its so hard to deal with a sensitive topic such as this one but it is so important and a reality in our world today. What we are doing is not good enough for suicide pervention…..so whats the next step? You were right that we can’t just watch a presntation as powerful as yours and say something needs to be done but then we just dont do anything….i really feel the need to do something! (but im at such a loss for what i can do) My next step is to attend the ‘Safe Talk’ workshop and i really hope from there i will be more aware of what i can do beyond just talking about it to my students. I really will keep everything you said in mind for my placement and i will be sure to spread the word on the amazing thing you are doing. Thank you so much for being so open and honest with us on such a sensitive topic, you have made a difference at the laurentian school of education and i hope you powerful message continues to spread!

  2. Hi Scott,
    Your talk on suicide was so moving, I cannot even describe it. I have never been personally effected by suicide, and I assumed I was the norm –I was astounded by the number of people just in that workshop who spoke up about their personal experiences. I was truly amazed at the widespread impact suicide has.
    One thing that really resonated with me was your terminology that someone “died by suicide” instead of saying “commited suicide”. I think that by saying they died by it, it has a more powerful impact, making it so that suicide is the result of a sickness that someone is plagued with, rather than it being a sudden action. By wording it this way, you really brought to attention the fact that suicide is what happens when there is an extended period of time where an individual is suffering. On that note, I am greatly anticipating participating in safeTALK as it will arm me with the tools i need to identify the sickness before it becomes fatal. I look forward to having the knowledge I need to help my students when they need help, and recognize the symptoms before it is too late.
    Your passion and dedication is infectious, and I both hope and expect that your project will accomplish everything it should. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

    Sincerely, Emily

  3. Hey Scott,
    Thanks for talking to us. The topic of suicide is definitly one that is crucial but hard to address. As teachers, we spend hours every day with our students so we will probably be one of the key people to notice changes in students. As a society, we definitly tip-toe around suicide, even though it is a hugely important issue. I think the biggest things I got from your presentation is that 1)suicide is our business, we need to talk about it and get over the elephant in the room. 2)Sometimes you dont need to know what to say, you just need to make it known that you are there and will listen and do whatever you can.
    Thanks again, and I look forward to the follow-up training.

  4. When you spoke last thursday, I was moved and emotionally unprepared for the powerful message that you have given to me. I feel everyone in that room has been, or knows someone that has either commited suicide or has contemplated/ attempted the idea of suicide. Personally, I have been in a situation where I have seen someone very close to me attempt to commit suicide, and it is truly heartbreaking. It can tear apart someones life, and the steps to recovering from that, as I believe, are the hardest steps you may have to take in your life. Your presentation definitly hit home, and I was neither prepared nor ready to face what was coming. I must say the time spent after your presentation was of deep reflection and connecting with loved ones and wondering why we never talked about what had happened. Suicide is definitly something that needs to be addressed, the same way we would address alcohol/ drug abuse, diesease, and mental illness. In my past, I would have never spoken to anyone about someone I know commiting suicide, because I felt sad, upset and i’ll admit, embarassed. I am still unsure on how people would react, and whether disclosing that information is appropriate–why should I burden anyone with talking about it? However, I know that I cannot be quiet, even though its hard, because being quiet is only pretending it didn’t happen, its only pretending that suicide is not a big issue. We need to get everyone to speak up, and all work together to stop suicide, and the affects it has on human beings.

    I will be attending your workshop in January, and I truley believe what you are doing is amazing. I cannot wait to see what happens next. Lets do this!


  5. Scott,

    One week has passed since you’ve spoken to us. However, the time elapsed has not change the impact your presentation has had on me. As teachers, in many cases, we spend more time with our students than anyone else. This is why it is so important to equip teachers and other educators with the tools necessary to break the suicide stigma and help prevent suicide. Thank you so much and I will be attending your Safe Talk Workshop in early 2012.


  6. Hi Scott,
    First of all I just want to say thanks for speaking with us. I was definitely a person who felt unable and unprepared to deal with the subject of suicide. I keep learning more and more this year that sometimes students/people in general just need someone to notice there is a problem and be there to listen. I hate feeling like I don’t know how to help, but you showed me that just making an effort is a great way to start. As future teachers we really need to make a difference in our student lives, as we may just be the only person in their life that shows care and compassion towards them. I hope to get the opportunity to take the “safe talk” workshop and spread the word about this program and break the stigma that comes with suicide.

  7. Hello Scott,
    To say that you have fuelled a response is an understatement….I am still meeting students who are in the Concurrent Ed program, School of Education at Laurentian who are STILL talking about last Thursday’s presentation, Scott—and it’s now 7 days later. I think one of the most moving comments was made by a guest teacher in the audience, who disclosed that her teenage son ended his life on his birthday—and the spiralling emotional rollercoaster that followed for her and for her family after this tragedy. I like your message about getting serious about training for people who are working with people–all people, and the importance you place on getting folks talking about suicide. You’re absolutely right about the positive changes that have happened with prostate cancer and breast cancer—and cancer in general. Terry Fox really did put cancer on the radar for everyone, and that’s precisely what we ALL need to do with suicide awareness. The tragedies are clearly not going to disappear and there is much work to be done.

    I’m delighted that so many education students are enthused about taking a SafeTalk Workshop in early 2012. It’s my hope that we can do this under an Interprofessional Education umbrella, teaming up with healthcare providers–doctors, social workers, pharmacists, midwifery students, medical students, teachers, etc. Afterall, suicide has the ability to spiral out and affects EVERYONE on some level. Our Laurentian School of Ed students are ready to step up and make a proactive change in their training.

    Bravo, Scott, on your activism.
    We hear you!!!
    Jan Buley
    Professor, Ed. Drama and Literacies
    Laurentian University

  8. Scott,

    First of all we need to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. The continuous dialogue between students in the Faculty of Education on Thursday, I had never seen anything quite like it. I did have the opportunity to briefly hear you speak previously, as I am a member of the Interdisciplinary development series that Gayle Adams-Carpino is hosting, and yet again I sat there with goosebumps the entire time. Hearing the stories of my fellow students and knowing that they have been impacted by suicide in their lives in some way shape or form really speaks volumes as to how common this is and how imperative it is that something be done about it.
    As educators we need to have tools and know what signs to look for. We are working on the front lines of this battle, and we need to make sure that educators do step in before things go too far. Something as simple as just checking in with your students if you ever feel something may not be right. The message that really got to me was when you discussed how when you went to a family doctor, if they knew there is a history of cancer in your family, then they would run tests and be looking out for these things. However, knowing the history of suicide in your family and that your risk is 8 times higher, why are they not checking in with you on your mental health when you go in for routine check ups? I feel that yes as educators we need more information and tools however, this is a topic that EVERYONE needs more education on.

    I know you have empowered us and the drive that our class will have going into our placements and this profession now, we will be able to make a difference. I am really looking forward to participating in the safeTALK workshop and furthering my own education on this issue, knowledge is power and the more we know, the more influential we can be to save someones life.

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories and knowledge with us, it was incredibly inspiring and motivating to want to make a change!

    Thank you!!

    Dana Parisotto

  9. As someone who has also been left behind by suicide, I am extremely grateful for everything you are doing. In terms of suicide “tools”, I have personal experience that can be shared. However, even after 9 years, I am still not comfortable sharing those experiences with anyone. As a child I also often felt like I was “left to deal with my pain in solitude”. Within my school, the social stigma attached to suicide was represented in my friends’ and teacher’s ability to act as if nothing had even happened – which lead me to believe I should feel embarrassed or ashamed. However, after your video conference, I made a commitment to myself and my future students to speak up about suicide and start having that conversation in class. Next step: “Safe Talk”, which in my opinion should be mandatory for everyone in a professional field.
    With sincerest thanks,
    – Ali

  10. Hey Scott,
    Your presentation on Thursday is still resinating with me and I know that it will continue to do so. Thursday was the second time I got to hear you speak, as I was a member of the Interprofessional Learning Series hosted by Gayle Adams-Carpino. Hearing your presentation a second made your message have that much more of an impact. I agree with you in saying that teachers need to have “tools” in place to help prevent losses to suicide. You have made it clear that an essential and powerful prevention tool is simply dialogue and conversation. As you mentioned, we need to act before a crisis occurs because when grief goes away, prevention actions follow.
    Addition points that stood out was the fact that there are no barriers such as, S.E.S, gender, race, etc., to suicide. Lastly, unfortunately for many, suicide is not the worst alternative, it’s simply an end. Hearing these points was more than enough to see that action needs to be taken. Put that in combination with your passion and drive for the Collateral Damage mission, I know that together we can put suicide on the map. I can’t wait for the safeTALK workshop. With your leadership, I know we can make safeTALK to suicide as CPR is to heart attacks.

    Thank you Scott, for your stories, wisdom and inspiration.

    -Ben Skillings

  11. Hello Scott,

    I would like to start off by thanking you for taking the time this morning to talk with us on preventing teen suicide. The presentation struck home for me because I had a high school friend commit suicide and I work with a lady whose son also committed suicide in their home. It is an awful tragedy that is impossible to express using words. I agree with you one-hundred and ten percent that this is a topic that is just not discussed and is sometimes swept under the rug. As teachers it should be a part of our professional development that we become comfortable talking about preventing suicide so we won’t be afraid to talk about it with our students, colleagues, friends, family or someday our children. As Rick Mercer stated in his rant, bullying is often the cause of these teen suicides and as teachers we will have the abilities in our classrooms and in our schools to watch for bullying and call out those who prey on harassing, intimidating and making fun of others who are different. It is important that those who bully be called out on it. By that I mean if a teacher catches a student bullying another student then that student need to be called out and needs to be named to their face that they are a bully. It is important that we sometimes realize that as much as we are professional’s that is not a title to hide behind or to be used to keeps us from doing what is right. I also agree with you that it is important for those contemplating suicide to know there is someone who will be there for them. The most important thing you said today was that it’s okay to not know what to say to someone who reveals they are considering committing suicide. Most people are afraid of not knowing what to say and you clearly pointed out that often times listening is enough, just being there as a support for the person is enough.

    I want to thank you again for your presentation this morning, and wish you all the best in spreading your message and for being a voice for those who feel like they have lost theirs.

    –Andrew Ferri

  12. Hi Scott,

    I have a couple of friends with debilitating depression. One of them – T. – has been pretty open to me about his feelings. I never knew what else to do, so I made him promise to call me if he was ever seriously considering doing something permanent. It was a few months later that I was sitting in Tim Hortons with my boyfriend, and I got a text from T. saying that he had made the call to end it, but that he had promised to tell me before he did it and he had wanted to keep that promise. I called another friend and told him that he had to go to T.’s house right away and keep knocking on the door until someone answered. Meanwhile, I kept texting T. (he wouldn’t pick up when I called) and tried to keep arguing with him. Whenever there was silence for too long on the other end, I would start to panic. When my other friend showed up at Tim Hortons with T. in tow, I felt the most relieved I have ever felt in my life. T. told me later that it shook him that our other friend had dropped everything to immediately go and pick him up, and that I had cried in the parking lot when I saw him. He hadn’t realized until then what he meant to his friends.

    I really appreciated your talk today because I, like most people, had no idea what to say or do when it came to a friend who had stopped wanting to live. I think most of us muddle through and do the best we can. My friend made it, but it was a close one; the rest of us had no idea what we were doing. The one good thing that came out of it was that T.’s parents realized, when our other friend showed up at their door, what was going on. They hadn’t been a support network for him because they hadn’t seen the signs, either. If every teacher had the tools to deal with suicide, and we could equip students with similar tools, I believe that a lot of things would change. Opening up communication and keeping an eye out for the people we care about doesn’t just prevent suicide; it strengthens our relationships on every frontier.

    Once again, thank you for what you do. Keep fighting the good fight.


  13. Scott,
    Your words this morning really affected me in unexpected ways. Going forward I hope to be better equipped with what to do or say when people are affected by suicide, not only in the classroom but in my life. Thank you for sharing your personal story, and opening my eyes to what is happening and what I can do to change it. It is my hope that talks like yours can be the catalyst for a different way of thinking about suicide. I am interested in getting involved and being a part of that change.

  14. Dear Scott,
    I wanted to thank you very much for your talk today. I was a part of the Interprofessional Learning Series where I heard you talk as well, and each time I was blown away by the passion for your cause. It really made me realize just how little teachers are prepared to deal with suicide prevent and suicides. I really want to take the “Safe Talk” workshop in the new year so that I will have the tools to help to prevent suicide both in my placement and when I become a full time teacher. I think that our talk today was really beneficial because it is really getting our program talking, which is our first step in getting the tools that we need. I completely agree with you when you said that what we’re doing is not enough, but I think that today was a benchmark day for our program, and hopefully other Faculties of Education across the country will follow in our footsteps.
    Thank you very much for speaking so honestly with us and giving the start in our education in suicide prevention

  15. Dear Scott,
    Your powerful words this morning have had me thinking all day. There is certainly not enough done to prevent suicide and the stigma that is attached to it. I know that many if not most of the people in the room today have felt the devastating effects of suicide in one way or another. I think Safe Talk workshops are the start of something that we desperately need. People need to know that it is okay to talk about it, and that it is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. I know that I among others are motivated and want to get involved in any way possible. I look forward to breaking the silence.

  16. Hello Scott,
    Wow. I am very thankful to have seen your presentation today on suicide. We have been talking in Jan’s class for a couple weeks now about the recent suicides and I have also talked with my family members about them. It is sad but true what you said today, we seem to only talk about suicide when there is a tragedy. But beyond the short-term grieving and reflecting, no dialogue continues. This is the problem and your presentation really demonstrated this message. Not enough is being done. What is just as bad is what happens to those who are left behind after a suicide. No one is prepared for such a tragedy and the support system of people who want to help are in fact useless. We have no idea what to do, what to say, how to cope, or how to act around that person. This is where we need the tools to help us on a personal and professional level.
    In high school I had a friend attempt to commit suicide because he was gay. He didn’t know how to be the person he is because the way he saw it, he wasn’t ‘normal’. If we start the dialogue when we begin to notice the signs, this is our best tool for fighting against suicide. Luckily my friends attempt failed and he had me and a small network of friends he had ‘come-out’ to, to talk with. I noticed he was harming himself and secluding himself. This was not the guy I knew, it was a sad, confused, scared version of him and I wanted to help him. I did everything I could by talking to him and listening but it wasn’t until he ended up in hospital from a drug overdose that the awareness of his mental state was realized. I was shocked he went to such an extreme because I thought that I was helping. This was when I realized that my friend’s problems were beyond anything I was prepared to deal with.
    When my friend was rushed to the hospital we all held our breath thinking this might be the end. Fortunately this was the beginning of a happy ending for my friend. His parents realized for the first time that their son hated himself and didn’t want to live. This was when the real healing began; his support system knew and accepted that he was gay, he went to counseling, talked to close friends and most important of all he accepted that he was gay and that it was ok. He accepted himself and this changed the outcome of his story.
    Living through almost losing him and hearing how deeply he was hurting makes me so aware of why we need to do more. My best friend was slipping away right in front of me and I didn’t have the tools to deal with what was happening. I didn’t know that suicide was an option he was considering. Maybe if I had, had the tools at the time I could have been proactive. I could have told his parents, or told a counselor because I would have recognized that the signs he was showing were leading to suicide.
    To conclude, the two things I found most profound from your presentation today were: by talking about it you are not making it worse and that we need to be looking for the signs of suicide so we can be proactive.
    It can happen to anyone and if/when it does we need to be prepared with the tools to help.
    I sincerely hope that we can implement ‘safe talk’ trainings across Canada and save lives. We need to BE THE CHANGE we want to see. We need the tools to do this and we need to do more because it is clear that we are not doing enough. I will do my part to share my knowledge and experience of suicide and I will contribute to the dialogue that needs to happen.

  17. Thank you Scott. I want you to know that your presentation was the main topic of conversation at the School of Education for the rest of the day and will be for a long time. It was powerful and moving. As a student teacher who has felt helpless when faced with the realities of the teen suicide during a placement I can tell you that I am completely on board with getting suicide awareness and prevention into a teacher’s training. I am looking forward to taking the “Safe Talk” workshop in the New Year and encouraging others to do the same.

  18. Scott,
    Thank you for your presentation today. I think it is very important that teachers are trained on the topic of suicide. We should know how to recognize the signs and how to respond to the effects of suicide. When I enter my placement in November, I will be sure to inform the principle of the presentation today and forward her this website.

  19. Thank you Scott for a moving and informative talk – what we are currently doing to prevent suicide is not enough! I am hoping to attend a full length ‘Safe Talk’ Workshop in the new year.

  20. Thank you Scott, for your very passionate words today. WOW. I was the guy who was teaching in a school when one of our students committed suicide. It was indeed a horrible experience – one I have never forgotten. And, although as a group, the school did become a closer knit community – there was not a a large amount of assistance in that, nor do I now believe that enough happened. I expect his class friends have likely never healed. I had NO tools to assist at the time.

    Ten minutes ago I wrote a strongly worded plea to the Faculty Union here to strongly urge all employees and students at LU to receive Safe Talk training by January of 2012. Unions have an interesting way of being worried by forcing people to do anything, but let’s see what transpires.

    To end, I attended – last weekend – a wonderful retreat on community drum circle facilitation. One (of the many) things that occurred to me there is that community drumming – and facilitation in the way I was being shown, leads participants – even reluctant ones – into places of communication and deep listening. A strong consequence of the music is “entrainment” – a deep symbiotic awareness and alignment of other with self and self with other. Facilitators also move participants into realms of following and leading. Leaders’ self esteem is built up, “following” is discovered to be the more difficult thing! The awareness of other is the root of growth and support and community. Tapping into the common rhythmic human energy – something we all have from birth – is the pathway to remaining human and grounded while living in a complex world. After your talk today I am even more committed than before to growing my abilities as a facilitator – and that includes growing more facilitators, to spread this rhythmic human energy everywhere.
    Thank you again for your work.

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