On October 10th World Mental Health Day will see governments, organisations, and individuals around the world lend their support to mental health issues, addressing the stigmas, assumptions and inaction that can lead to the struggles of millions, and the tragic suicides of too many.

Leading iwonder's October highlights is Scattering CJ: the heart-breaking yet life-affirming story of a young man’s tragic suicide, and the mission taken up by strangers all over the world – led by his grieving mother – to scatter his ashes in places he would have longed to visit.

Then in this month’s iwonder Top Five, we pull together a selection of films looking at the mental challenges and traumas often uniquely faced by young people, as they navigate the confusing path to adulthood through the constantly connected modern world.

Scattering CJ

#Heartbreaking #Mental Health #World

Launches Thursday October 27th

When seemingly happy, travel-infatuated CJ Twomey ended his own life at age 20, his family was plunged into unrelenting grief and guilt. In a moment of desperate inspiration, his mother, Hallie, put out an open call on Facebook, looking for a handful of travellers who might help fulfil 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 one thousand volunteers have since taken CJ to over one hundred 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, including Kelly from Sydney, Hallie’s story 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. Her story further illustrates how there can be positive action grown from suicide, and that even if it isn't reliably predictable, in some cases it may still be preventable.

Dancer

#Mental Health #Culture #Inner Demons

Blessed with astonishing power and poise, Sergei Polunin took the dance world by storm and became the Royal ballet’s youngest ever principal. At the peak of his success, aged 25, he walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom – his talent more a burden than a gift. Here is an unprecedented look into the life of a complex young man who made ballet go viral, and the high price that can come with virtuosity.

The Departure

#Mental Health #Japan #Up Close

Ittetsu Nemoto is a bad boy do-gooder. A 44-year-old Tokyo native, Nemoto loves riding his motorcycle and dancing all night in clubs. But he’s also a Rinzai Zen priest, who lives with his wife, mother and baby son at a temple in the remote countryside of Gifu prefecture, Japan. There, over the last ten years, he has become famous for his work in combating suicide. He relates to the men and women who come to him for help not as a professional, or a saintly spiritual figure bestowing wisdom from up on high—but instead, as one of them, a screwed-up individual full of pain and suffering, on a high-stakes mission to understand the purpose of being alive.

Nemoto is remarkably successful in his career because he refuses to draw lines between suicidal people and himself—but that is also precisely why his problems begin.

iwonder When

10th October

October will offer a time of global reflection and focus on addressing mental health, with World Mental Health Day taking place on October 10th. Australia also ushers in National Mental Health Month, with Mental Health Week getting underway in Australian states across the country from 8th October.

No matter where in the world people are, this period of mental health awareness is an opportunity for everyone to move towards a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental wellbeing, and access to the care they need.

iwonder Who

The Twomey Family

John, Hallie and Connor Twomey are ¾ of a family, following the devastating suicide of their son and brother, CJ, at age 20.

John acts as the family rock, shouldering the weight of sadness that at times, threatens their sanity.

Connor is the glue that holds the family together, choosing to live life and to create new memories as a way to honour the brother he adored.

Hallie carries a burden of guilt surrounding CJ’s death which has moulded her into a life of advocacy, in the hope that her son’s story may help prevent others from following in his footsteps.

They are all humbled and honoured by the response Scattering CJ has received and owe a debt of gratitude to all those who now consider themselves a part of the Scattering CJ community.

iwonder What

Growing Pains

In this month’s iwonder Top Five - in support of mental health initiatives around the world - we pull together five documentaries each looking at challenges experienced by young people coping with the often confusing and challenging journey of self-discovery.

1) My Millennial Life

#Young people #Identity #employment

Millennials are the most educated generation ever, but over half of college graduates end up unemployed or in dead-end jobs.

My Millennial Life is an intimate documentary following the stories of four twenty-somethings as they fight to find their place in today’s world. Life is nothing like what they were promised: from the highs of internships at Vice and Google, to the lows of cleaning hotel bathrooms, the future has never looked more uncertain for Generation Y.

2) Adult Under Construction

#Young people #Identity #employment

A 25-year-old woman seeks answers that explain her behaviour during adolescence, setting out on a journey looking for a scientific explanation. Every generation has their issues and challenges but, in the end, they all face the same reality - it’s tough growing up.

Scientific research and new technology has certainly brought us closer to what’s going on in our brain during our teen years, but will it change anything? Will we be wild and demanding; unfair and stubborn; loving and hating; romantic and dramatic? Adult Under Construction attempts to understand what’s going on beneath the surface of tempestuous teens.

3) InRealLife

#Internet #Addiction #Mental Health

InRealLife asks what exactly is the internet and what is it doing to children? Taking us on a journey from teenagers’ bedrooms to the world of Silicon Valley, filmmaker Beeban Kidron suggests that rather than the promise of free and open connectivity, young people are increasingly ensnared in a commercial world.

4) OUT

#LGBTQIA+ #Society #Identity

Through a montage of compelling videos posted on the Internet by young gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transsexuals, this film plays witness to the ground-breaking moment of their coming out, after which their intimate and social life will never be the same.

5) Beyond Trauma

#PTSD #Science #Mental Health

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) hits more civilians than soldiers, and more women than men, manifesting with a dizzying range of symptoms. But as scientists search for an effective treatment, they’re still trying to understand a perplexing question: when so many people experience the trauma of sudden loss, near-death, and violence, what makes some more vulnerable to PTSD than others? Unfolding discoveries raise key questions about the fault-lines of fear and memory, and the roles geography and childhood development all may play in predicting personal responses to trauma.