This morning I presented the Collateral Damage Project to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine second year students in Thunder Bay and Sudbury via video conference. This was a unique presentation because I was living in a small community in Northern Ontario when my father died by suicide almost 30 years ago. I challenged the students to show me what might be different today given the same scenario. What would be different for my father today and what would be different for me as a 17 year who has lost his father to suicide. Unfortunately very little has changed.
I invite the Medical Students who were a part of my presentation to share your thoughts on what you think of the Collateral Damage Project and what you believe we ought to be doing for suicide prevention. If you are not comfortable with sharing your thoughts on the blog, please email me at

Not Talking About It Isn’t Working.


5 thoughts on “Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM)

  1. Mental Health and Illness carries so much stigma and is all too commonly swept under the rug by society. Thank you for shedding light on this subject, and I really hope NOSM follows through with incorporating Suicide Prevention Training into our education. If it hasn’t already, mental health will affect each one of us in the future, both in practice and in our personal lives. Thank you for spending the time and making it more acceptable to talk about something so important to general public health, yet somehow continually ignored.

  2. Great talk! We are in a field that would definitely benefit from increased knowledge on this topic. Looking forward to learning more!

  3. A-week: If the topic of adding training to A-week comes up at an Undergraduate Medical Education Committee meeting I will rant about how good this mornings session was, and how we should get training.

  4. The second year class just had the session on suicide prevention and preparedness. The session was perhaps one of the most applicable and useful coordination sessions I have had in my time at NOSM. I think that Scott should be brought back to talk to the other classes of learners this year.

    Scott brought to light again for me the need we have at future medical professionals to have specific tools and training to help prevent and address suicide in our practices. As a former first responder on university campuses I know first hand how important it is to be prepared. I was shown my personal need for more training as I was thrown into a suicide intervention while on my ICE placement this past module. I felt completely unprepared to deal with the situation, I would like to note that my preceptors on placement were great at talking me through what I needed to do before going into the room, but we NEED formal training in our curriculum to deal with this gap in our curriculum.

    We are sent into communities where suicide rates are unacceptably high with little or no training on what we can do to help this problem. NOSM’s social accountability mandate talks about fulfilling the need of having physicians from the north and trained for practising the north, yet suicide training is a large hole I see in our training to fulfil this mandate. In our CBL and TOS sessions we often discuss the higher suicide rates in Aboriginal and northern populations, yet we get no constructive tools to deal with this.

    As a learner I want NOSM to help organize a the Living Works Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop during our Academic Week in March. I believe that this training is NEEDED before we go any further in our education. I would not feel comfortable going into my Clerkship community without this training. I do not want myself or other students to be put in situations where we don’t have the tools to deal with these situations again. For future years, I think this training should be provided to all first year students before going for the ICE 106 Aboriginal placements, so we not only have the tools as medical learners to intervene if needed but also to help educate people in our communities on the warning signs to look for and steps they can individually.

    *Copied from an email sent to administration, so please pardon any acronyms used

  5. What an inspiring presentation – truly well done! As a class, we are all interested in learning more. We are going to propose additional training and discussion as part of our curriculum requirements.

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