WQPT, Quad Cities PBS will hold a virtual screening event with excerpts from the documentary “Scattering CJ” on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. Following each excerpt, there will be a panel discussion about the film and suicide prevention.
“Scattering CJ” explores the devastating effects of suicide, the extraordinary generosity of strangers and one troubled family’s attempt to finally find peace, according to a WQPT release. Following the loss of her 20-year-old son to suicide, Hallie Twomey reached out to people far and wide to help scatter CJ’s ashes around the world.
The panel discussion that follows the film will be moderated by Dr. Carrie Alexander-Albritton, an associate professor in the Department of Counselor Education and College Student Personnel for Western Illinois University, and a panel of regional mental health professionals.
Also joining the virtual discussion will be CJ’s mother, Hallie Twomey, and Ethan Oser, the film’s associate producer. Viewers may stream the screening at wqpt.org, WQPT PBS’ YouTube or Facebook pages.
Those lacking the technology to join the screening virtually, or anyone that would like to watch as a group can attend at Western Illinois University-QC, Room 111, 3300 River Drive, Moline.
When seemingly happy, travel-infatuated CJ Twomey violently ended his own life at age 20, his family was plunged into unrelenting grief and guilt, according to a film synopsis. In a moment of desperate inspiration, his mother Hallie put out an open call on Facebook, looking only for a handful of travelers who might help fulfill her son’s wish to see the world by scattering some of his ashes in a place of beauty or special meaning.
Twenty-one thousand strangers liked the Facebook page, and 1,000 volunteers have since taken CJ to over 100 countries. While crisscrossing the globe, his ashes and his family’s story have given rise to a social media phenomenon — a worldwide community — that has congregated in solidarity and empathy in dealing with a still heavily stigmatized and misunderstood form of mental illness.
Aggregating hundreds of clips chronicling personal ash-scattering pilgrimages worldwide, combined with intimate interviews and vérité filmmaking, Hallie’s story — one that has cross-pollinated and traveled so organically, resonantly, inspirationally — shows us that social media can act as a connector and a vehicle for empathy, as opposed to the more toxic aspects of social media interaction we’re currently witnessing, the film summary says.
Her story further illustrates how there can be positive action grown from suicide, and that even if it isn’t reliably predictable, it just may in some cases be preventable.
“Scattering CJ” had its world premiere at the Camden International Film Festival in September 2019.
An estimated 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than 1% of all deaths. It is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15-29.
Each day, approximately 21 U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel take their own lives. In 2018, 6,132 veterans and 1,387 active duty personnel died by suicide.
As a part of their normal schedule, WQPT will air the “Scattering CJ” documentary on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. on the public television channel 24.1, followed by “Hiding in Plain Sight” at 8 p.m. and “Medicating Normal” at 10 p.m.
For more information, including a film trailer, click HERE.