On April 14th, 2010, CJ Twomey took his own life in a devastating, family-changing event. He was 20 years old.
CJ’s mother Hallie, father John and brother Connor were destroyed by the loss and, as is so often the case, Hallie blamed herself. Already wracked with guilt, she was further haunted by thoughts of the things her son would never do, the places he would never go.
Two years later, Hallie hit upon an idea in a moment of desperate inspiration. On Facebook, she put a call out to the world: Would anyone take a tiny amount of CJ’s ashes with them on a trip somewhere beautiful or significant, scatter them, tell CJ how much his family loves him, and document their experience?
Hallie hoped for a dozen responses. Instead she sparked a phenomenon, creating an online community of 21,000 people all touched by her incredible strength and emotional honesty. The community has become a refuge for those affected by suicide, encouraging a wider dialogue with those contemplating it and standing as a living monument to the damage suicide wreaks upon tens of thousands of American families every year.
From Fenway Park to the Great Wall of China, from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to Rio de Janeiro, CJ’s ashes have been scattered in a hundred different countries by nearly a thousand people—each with their own inspiration for joining the movement.
Scattering CJ is a meditative film about journeying: emotionally for the Twomey family; physically for the ashes; and for the participants on their own individual pilgrimages, a little of both.
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The Scattering CJ community has helped Hallie find the peace and courage to become a powerful voice in the fight against suicide. Now we hope our film can support her efforts and be a catalyst for stimulating much-needed conversations on suicide and mental illness in a relatable, emotive way. We can do so much more to debunk the persistent stigma and mythology surrounding these issues, and we feel our film is an extremely powerful tool to do just that.
Our impact campaign to date has included:
Scattering CJ premiered at the Camden International Film Festival in September 2019 where Stone Soup, in partnership with the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), field-tested an informational and intensive mental health “boot camp” following the screening.
Stone Soup has formed partnerships with a number of national mental health organizations including AAS, American College Counseling Association, The Silhouette Project, Psych Hub, Mind in Motion, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
In alliance with these national partners, Stone Soup is engaging in an outreach campaign targeting high-risk environments on military bases and college campuses.
In November 2019, Stone Soup hosted the inaugural Comfort Zone, an evening of musical performances, comfort food, and open conversation to help raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
Stone Soup organized a special program for National Council on Mental Wellness Hill Day at Home, sponsored by 16 bi-partisan members of the Congress, with over 3000 registrants and a reach of over 13,500 on social media.
Stone Soup organized a worldwide virtual screening program on Show&Tell to commemorate Survivors of Suicide Loss Day 2021. The screening was the centerpiece of the Stronger Together "mental health bootcamp" event that featured panel discussions on suicide prevention, survivorship, and mental health initiatives, with 830 registrants from 5 continents.
Stone Soup coordinated a series of live and virtual screenings across the U.S. hosted by state legislatures, national mental health advocates, community mental health and suicide prevention groups, including local chapters of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Scattering CJ was broadcast on public television in Fall of 2022.