S Word Stories

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In filmmaking there are hours — sometimes hundreds of hours — of footage that never makes it into the film. If Director Lisa Klein had it her way, the film would probably just be hundreds of hours long. But since she was overruled, we knew we had to share these stories in a new way.

When it comes to suicide, we just can’t afford to leave these critical conversations on the cutting room floor.

Welcome to the #SWordStories. We bring you ‘Stories’ and ‘Voices,’ personal essays and short videos speaking up about suicide from attempt survivors, experts, and more.

Join the conversation and follow along with the #SWordStories on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Warning: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, some of these stories could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741-741 for free and confidential support.

Story Telling and Suicide Prevention

By | 2017-08-10T10:04:17+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Interviews, Stories|

Director Lisa Klein was the guest on a recent Sally Spencer-Thomas podcast about why storytelling is so critical in effective suicide prevention. Intimate, vulnerable, inspiring stories let us know we are not alone. Stories of recovery allow us to see a road map before us that leads us out of our despair. To listen to [...]


By | 2017-08-10T09:00:56+00:00 July 5th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, Lived Experience, Stories|

I tried to kill myself in the summer of 2006. I was 23. I spent a month deeply entrenched in an exhaustive cycle of breaking up and getting back together with Emma*, the girl I'd loved for three years. She was cheating on me, but neither of us could sever ties with the other.

Ceiling in the Floor

By | 2017-05-01T14:34:09+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Loss Survivor, Stories, Surviving Suicide|

When I was asked to speak at Brandon Toh’s memorial service, I had no idea of the journey it would take me on. The speech that I wrote ended up inspiring a full-length production called "Ceiling in the Floor, ” a theater/music/dance piece that tells the story of our friendship and features his incredible music. [...]

Suicide From the Other Side

By | 2017-04-18T09:35:05+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Loss Survivor, Stories, Understanding Suicide|

My flip phone says 3 missed calls 2 from home 1 from him I assume her phone died so she used his to call me and I quickly relive the night before up in the wee morning hours listening to her tears telling her it'll be okay get to yoga center yourself you only want to be with someone who [...]

The Suicide Layer Cake

By | 2017-04-07T16:28:47+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, Lived Experience, Stories|

Layer One - Lies The blackness arose from the lies. The layers of blackness slowly turned to grays and browns. Each color representing some new form of deflection, self-preservation, or justification to make sure I never had to face the pain directly. Those layers let in peaks of light and, at very rare times, happiness. [...]


By | 2017-03-01T16:46:12+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Lived Experience, Loss Survivor, Stories|

Read Director Lisa Klein's recently published piece on Mental Health on The Mighty. Looking back at loss and lessons learned along the way, “How could he have done that to us? It was so selfish.” I wondered this as well, until I started talking with and listening to people with lived experience – people who [...]

Crisis Hotlines

By | 2017-05-03T12:30:06+00:00 February 17th, 2017|Crisis Hotline, Experts, Seeking Help, Voices|

In this 3-part conversation, "Crisis Hotlines," Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Dr. John Draper, Founder of Trans Lifeline, Greta Martela, and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Shari Sinwelski tell us how hotlines have transformed suicide prevention, and continue to save lives every single day.

Teens, College & Suicide Prevention

By | 2017-05-03T12:30:32+00:00 February 17th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, College, Experts, Teens, Understanding Suicide, Voices|

In this 3-part conversation, "Teens, College & Suicide Prevention," suicide prevention advocate and attempt survivor, Misha Kessler, psychologist and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Dr. Kita Curry, and college suicide prevention advocacy group, Active Minds, discuss the impact mental health support on college campuses can make for students.

Seeking Help & Suicide Prevention

By | 2017-05-03T12:31:16+00:00 February 17th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, Experts, Seeking Help, Voices|

In this 3-part conversation, "Seeking Help & Suicide Prevention,” psychologist and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Dr. Kita Curry, suicide attempt survivor, Samantha Nadler, and leading suicidologist, Dr. Thomas Joiner, tell us why we can't do it all ourselves, and why asking for help doesn't make you "less than," it makes you human.

These Things I Do, That Others May Live

By | 2017-02-17T14:45:41+00:00 February 15th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, Experts, Lived Experience, Stories, Veterans|

From the very start of my training as a clinical psychologist, I was interested in suicide prevention and have wanted to work with individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts. As an early career psychologist, I worked with and provided treatment to hundreds of suicidal individuals. When I deployed to Iraq in 2009, however, my relationship with [...]

Did Somebody Lose Their Marbles?

By | 2017-02-17T16:46:03+00:00 February 8th, 2017|Attempt Survivors, Lived Experience, Stories, Surviving Suicide|

After shooting the film “The Crucible,” during which I had a manic episode, I returned to Los Angeles and had to find a new agent. I told him at my interview I had bipolar disorder. He said, “Oh, honey, I’ve had actors wander off sets for weeks on a binge. You are the least of [...]

Mentally Prepared: Fixing Mental Health Policies at Harvard

By | 2017-02-15T14:31:20+00:00 January 31st, 2017|College, Lived Experience, Stories|

My name is Nikki Daurio and I’m currently a sophomore at Harvard University. Last year, I developed depression and suicidal ideation so I decided to seek help. I noticed several flaws within the Mental Health Services on campus and encountered several paradoxes in the public health system. Following that, I decided to dig deeper and [...]

Finding Life After Death: The Day I Died Didn’t Take Away My Pain

By | 2017-02-10T09:31:46+00:00 January 26th, 2017|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

Writing this is hard because even though I’ve spoken about my personal struggles in public and on video those are distant memories. Almost 18 years since my last attempt and 17 years since my last mental health break and hospitalization. I wonder will I lose business opportunities because this attempt is so fresh? How will [...]

I Don’t Deserve to Be Called a Survivor

By | 2017-02-10T09:31:52+00:00 January 17th, 2017|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

I don’t deserve to be called a survivor. I’m just some guy. I never thought my story was worth telling. I never even thought I’d be alive right now. In October 2009, I had just returned home from serving in the army due to being discharged after a mental breakdown. The whole reason I had [...]

Editor and Camera Operator

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:02+00:00 January 3rd, 2017|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

Suicide. A real curveball. It was a topic I hadn’t thought too hard about until I was asked to shoot video for a suicide documentary — one that has since been titled “The S Word.” I remember my initial coffee meeting with Lisa Klein, the director of the film. She asked me if I would [...]

The “S-Word” Can Also Be the “T-Word”

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:09+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

I have had the privilege of knowing and working alongside many people who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide, and others who have survived their own period of suicidal crisis. I have learned so much from these inspirational individuals. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that, “the ‘S’ [...]

After Robin Williams

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:43+00:00 December 14th, 2016|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

“Excerpts from Rabbi Stacy’s Yom Kippur sermon at Congregation Rodef Sholom in Northern California. Rabbi Stacy delivered this a couple of months after the death of Robin Williams, but the message is still relevant today. This is a piece that pushes through any religious leanings, and strikes the core feelings that surround preconceived notions of mental illness [...]

You — Yes, You — Can Save a Life

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:49+00:00 December 6th, 2016|Bipolar, Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

A few summers ago I was struggling financially, and as a result, I developed a severe ulcer. Then I found out I had cancer on my nose and would need reconstructive surgery. But the worst was yet to come: the man I loved left me—without a word, without any warning. This combination of events was [...]

Closure Blooms

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:54+00:00 November 28th, 2016|Bipolar, Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

I tried to kill myself at Yale University when I was a student there 51 years ago. Returning to the 50th Reunion of the class of 1966, the class I didn’t graduate with, I sought closure to what has always been a painful experience.  A friend from those undergraduate years invited me to come. I [...]

National Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

By | 2017-02-10T09:32:58+00:00 November 18th, 2016|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

Any time there is a forum for people to talk about their shared experiences – that’s a good thing. Sometimes we just want to be around people who get it – it’s comforting. Having a day set aside to honor or memorialize people who have died by suicide or loved somebody who has, is a [...]

My Story, Rewritten

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:03+00:00 November 15th, 2016|Bipolar, Mental Health, Stories, Surviving Suicide|

Dark Days: I experienced many dark days from the ages of 4 to 40. I experienced various types of abuse and trauma during those years, and I began having symptoms of mental illness as early as 7. The symptoms weren’t always consistent, and my behavior was misconstrued as, “she is just being a bad girl,” [...]

And we’re LIVE!

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:09+00:00 November 7th, 2016|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

"And we're LIVE!" For two years, I start just about every weekly Suicide Prevention Social Media Chat (#SPSM) livestream with those words. Those words weren't intentional. It's just how things turned out. If you want to do a regular social media event about a topic that everyone says no one wants to talk about, I [...]

The Iron Men of October

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:14+00:00 October 25th, 2016|Stories, Suicide Prevention, Surviving Suicide|

It is currently October 2016 and, as such, it has been nearly half a century since the formal study of understanding (and preventing) suicide was borne out into its own existence. In these past 50 years there have been many important discoveries and advances, but one thing has NOT changed, suicide remains a leading cause [...]


By | 2017-02-10T09:33:20+00:00 September 28th, 2016|Mental Health, Stories, Suicide Prevention|

I’ve lost 5 friends to it. I joined 1 of the 6 children’s response teams in the country and was floored at how inhumane I felt the “standardized” response we (society) continue to deploy. There is no intermediate response, so I wanted to empower everyone with the same skill that professionals have so they can [...]

This is the Day that Changed Me

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:31+00:00 September 23rd, 2016|Stories, Surviving Suicide|

It is 8 am.  I shower.  Dress in black.  Get in the car.  Smoke.   I’m shaky.  A little nervous.  I tell myself I’m not.  Deep breathes.  Focus on driving.  Getting closer.  Maybe 20 minutes.  I’m just a person.  I am nobody.  Am I safe?  Do I trust my doctor?  Do  I trust these people?  Do [...]

The Alchemy of Healing

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:42+00:00 September 9th, 2016|Mental Health, Stories, Surviving Suicide|

For the last fifteen years, I’ve been “out” as a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve shared publicly what it felt like to be unable to live in my own skin, and what it was like to be a patient receiving treatment after suicide attempts. I’ve shared countless times about how the systems that were supposed to [...]

Craig Miller: My Story

By | 2017-02-10T09:33:51+00:00 September 2nd, 2016|Stories, Surviving Suicide|

“Why?” As a suicide attempt survivor I can’t tell you how many times I have sat with people and tried to give them an answer to that question. When doctors would ask I would become frustrated, because they should be the ones with the answers. When family would ask I would feel guilty, because anything [...]

Understanding The S Word

By | 2017-06-30T14:31:31+00:00 August 26th, 2016|Stories, Surviving Suicide|

I’ve been here before. When the sadness is so thick it can choke me, and I have terrifying thoughts swirling in my mind trying to seduce me with an escape plan from my pain- it can be horrifying, especially because I am a suicide attempt survivor. Being a part of “The S Word” documentary has [...]

Changing the Conversation around Suicide

By | 2017-02-10T09:34:02+00:00 May 10th, 2016|Mental Health, Stories, Surviving Suicide|

My name is Lisa Klein and I am currently directing a documentary called The S Word. Try telling someone you’re making a film about suicide and see what their reaction is. A long, uncomfortable silence. A concerned look. Clearing of the throat. Then I launch into my spiel – “It’s not going to be a [...]

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