Small Ideas: $10,000


Globally, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. In Canada, suicide is one of the leading causes of death and is the second leading cause of death in those aged 15-34. Suicide is a serious public health issue. The stigma around suicide and mental illness is an enormous barrier to providing support to those who need it most—those who have been touched by suicide. This includes individuals who have contemplated or attempted suicide, loved ones of someone who has had these experiences, and survivors of suicide loss. We believe that storytelling has the power to bring communities together, and the power to help increase awareness, eliminate stigma and reduce deaths by suicide.

The Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Suicide & Depression Studies Program (ASR Program) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario has developed the Storybook Project to collect stories written by those touched by suicide. A public call invited individuals to share their experiences in short stories with the goals of encouraging open conversations about suicide and mental illness, inspiring hope, and reminding those in similar situations that they are not alone. Storytelling can also help encourage personal healing. Stories will be published online at, and selected stories will be published in a book.

To deliver these important and impactful stories to as many people as possible, the ASR Program is applying to the Aviva Community Fund to support 1) a public launch event for the Storybook Project and 2) book printing, binding and distribution.

Community Book Launch Event

The Aviva Community Fund would support a public launch event for the Storybook Project—an evening of story sharing and community building. The event will be held in an inviting and accessible community space and will be free of charge. Presentations will be delivered by lived experience speakers and medical/research professionals. In addition to copies of the published book, various resources including information about city- and province-wide suicide support programs will be available.

The event will be modeled after a very well-received community event held by our program in June 2018, which opened the conversation about depression and bipolar disorder. Attendees described the event as “uplifting and informative” and several attendees expressed interest in an event specifically about suicide. The need to address suicide and mental illness is urgent, and open forums can promote understanding and awareness. Empowering the community with knowledge and support will strengthen the community, allowing it to be better together.

Book Production and Distribution

The Aviva Community Fund would also support the printing, binding and distribution of the collected short stories. Funding the production and wide distribution of the printed works would make it possible to reach more individuals and communities in need, especially those who may not have internet access.

Who we are

The ASR Program is part of the Centre for Depression and Suicide at St. Michael’s Hospital, which is dedicated to not only innovative research in the areas of depression and suicide, but also to continuous outreach and community programming. The Centre hosts numerous community events and initiatives every year to support those affected by depression and suicide, in collaboration with other mental health organizations.

Support from the Aviva Community Fund would strengthen our existing programs and allow us to deliver more events that bring forth knowledge acquired through both research and lived experience. We aim to lead by example, creating a legacy and culture of open dialogue and inclusivity throughout communities.

Broker supported

ASR Depression and Suicide Studies Program, St. Michael's Hospital

Location: Toronto