JULY 19, 2021 – It is with tremendous sadness that Crisis Services Canada announces the passing of Jason Chare, the National Director of Clinical Operations for the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, a helpline offered nationally through a partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Canadian Mental Health Association, National office (CMHA) and Crisis Services Canada (CSC). Jason died June 19th after a three-year battle with a serious illness.
Jason was well-known within the distress centre sector through his work at CSC starting in 2017, leading clinical operations for the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) since 2017, as well as his long-time participation in the Crisis Line Association of British Columbia (CLABC). Prior to coming to Canada in 2013, Jason led a crisis centre in Japan, including during the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Jason was known for his ability to articulate his views in a calm, thoughtful way – whether he was agreeing or disagreeing with another point of view. It was a style that helped develop a consensus, particularly when working on complex or difficult issues.
While Jason was a quiet and humble person, there could be absolutely no doubting his commitment to supporting those in crisis
This is clearly evident in a Ted X talk on Active Listening Jason did while in Japan, a presentation that captured so much of the measure of the man; he was in turns humble and humorous, charming and articulate, passionate about helping others. He deeply believed in his work and walked the talked that he gave at TedX; he was a deep and sensitive listener.
Despite his full-on commitment to his work, it was equally clear that Jason was totally devoted to his family. He would often recount holidays with members of his family in the UK and his wife Clara’s family in Canada and abroad. He delighted in his camping adventures with sons Tora and Ryan.
Born and raised in England, early in his career Jason moved to Japan to teach English, where he met his wife Clara, a Canadian from BC. There were many adventures and travels while based in Japan. Jason climbed Mount Fuji seven times and took up Karate, earning his black belt by defeating ten opponents in one session.
While there, he became involved in local helplines, eventually rising to taking charge of a local distress centre and was at the helm when the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred in 2011 In 2013, Jason and Clara and their young sons moved to Canada, where Jason became involved in the CLABC and then joined the CSC team to develop and launch the CSPS.
As a colleague, Jason was empathetic, but he was not naïve. He saw challenges and obstacles mindfully took them on. And it’s not that he didn’t see the faults in people, plans and ideas, it’s that he listened and considered; he heard, but didn’t judge and then worked tirelessly toward the best outcome. His facilitation skills were amazing.
There can be no doubt about the legacy Jason is leaving to all of us – to the CSC team who without exception have respected, admired and truly enjoyed working with him; to colleagues at CAMH and CMHA in the CSPS partnership team; to the member distress centre network that delivers CSPS; colleagues at CLABC and the broader helpline community.
Jason was instrumental in the creation of the CSPS, heading the operation of the helpline when it launched in voice, text and chat. He guided the service through the growing pains of the early years, and then rose to the challenges of the COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, within a few short weeks, Jason led the CSC team to create a virtual back-up hub, convert training from in-person to on-line and despite all these challenges, led the team to be able to handle triple the monthly number of interactions in March 2021 compared to March 2020. When those in Canada needed it most, Jason led the charge to ensure that support was there in the moment it was urgently needed.
If we do the math, we can see that Jason’s work made a profound impact. Since its launch in 2017, CSPS has responded to more than 157,000 thousand people in crisis who were supported by our helpline at the moment they needed it most. He showed the strongest leadership when things were at their toughest.
Due to COVID restrictions, a small funeral and memorial service was held on July 8 in Vancouver. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help support Jason’s family and his sons’ education: https://gofund.me/2913c08b