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 [...]
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.
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.
When I tell people what I do for a living, I typically get one of three reactions: #1 “Oh wow! I could NEVER do THAT!”; #2 “So, do you get sexual callers?”; or, most commonly, #3 Silence. The conversation is stopped in its tracks. I am one of those mythical creatures that works on a [...]
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.
In this 3-part conversation, "Having Hope and Suicide Prevention,” psychologist Dr. William Schmitz Jr., suicide loss survivor, Iden McCollum, and psychologist, Dr. April Foreman, talk about moving past the "suicide zone", and seeing hope beyond pain.
On a chilly evening in late March of 2012, I walked into a room and sat down amongst a group of strangers. The only thing we had in common was we all had lost someone who died by 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. [...]
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 [...]
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. [...]
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 [...]
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.
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.
In this 3-part conversation, "Talking About The 'S' Word," psychologist Dr. April Foreman, Mental Health Advocates Keris Myrick & Wilma Townsend, and college suicide prevention advocacy group Active Minds tell us why we have to talk about suicide, and why the silence surrounding it is far more terrifying.
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.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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. 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 [...]
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 [...]
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’ [...]
“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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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!" 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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Every night, I would wish that the next morning I would wake up dead. Of course this is technically impossible. It was however a reflection of the deep emotional pain, anguish and hopelessness that I felt for so many years. Waking up dead did not mean waking up with the sudden ability to turn off [...]
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 [...]
Okay, so September is Suicide Prevention Month. There are a lot of months, weeks and days reminding us to pay attention to various things – usually they are things we should be paying attention to all the time. What happens when the month is over? In the case of suicide prevention, there are a lot [...]
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 [...]
“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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]