The S Word

By Heidi Tobe on September 12, 2017

Recently the TDC team had the honor of screening a new film, The S Word Documentary: Opening the Conversation About Suicide. And for our team it did just as the title indicated-it opened up a space for us to have conversations about suicide and the ways it has impacted our lives personally and professionally.

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I want to share a bit of information about this groundbreaking movie with you; it’s being released this month and is a must-watch. The S Word director Lisa Klein is a survivor of her brother’s and father’s suicides. She knows on a deeply personal level the silent suffering that accompanies suicide and just how necessary conversations about suicide are. She uses The S Word to reduce silence and give a voice to the stories millions are stifling on a daily basis. The film invites you to join suicide attempt survivor Dese’Rae Stage’s journey as she seeks out fellow attempt survivors, and documents and shares each of their rich and complex stories. Dese’Rae skillfully captures the courage, pain, humor, and hope of her fellow survivors as she hears and shares their stories.

Throughout The S Word, we are reminded that suicide is not a them issue; it’s an all of us issue. Despite the silence that so often surrounds this topic, every one of us is touched by suicide in some way. For some of us, it is in our work with clients. For others, it is within our family or close friend circles. And for some of us, it is an issue we battle ourselves (yes-even mental health professionals can struggle with suicidal ideation!). Suicide doesn’t discriminate: it affects people of all backgrounds, all socioeconomic statuses, all races and ethnicities, all faiths, all ages, and all sexual orientations and gender presentations.

The S Word is an open invitation to engage in honest and brave communication about suicide. It is a reminder that none of us are alone. The S Word has a myriad of goals: raising awareness about suicide prevention and resources, opening up conversations about suicide to include all people, creating spaces to speak about suicide openly and without shame or judgment, thinking about suicide in a different way, and ultimately changing the world. We here at TDC think it’s on its way to doing just that.

A TDC staff members shared, “the overarching theme for me is making space: how do we make space for the dialogue to occur safely? How do we help or support the family members left behind create and keep space for the person they lost (if that’s what they want)? How do we make space for different perspectives and ideas about suicide? How do we support couples and families in making space for a person’s pain and feelings? How do we support them in being vulnerable enough to let go of their own narrative to support the person who is suffering? How can we help support people in creating the groups and spaces that would be most healing for them? And how do we make space for the very rational fear that goes along with suicide without being consumed by it?

While the film and this topic can be difficult to engage in, we believe it is an incredibly important one to watch. This month there are screenings for The S Word in Michigan, Toronto, Washington, Iowa, Utah, Colorado, and Texas with additional screenings scheduled for October in Georgia, Kansas, California, and Massachusetts. To learn more click here.

Don’t see your state on this list? You can host a screening in your community! Learn more about hosting a screening of The S Word here.

We encourage you to check out their extensive list of resources available here. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, don’t stay silent. Help is out there.

Join us on our Facebook page to engage in conversation. Let’s talk about the fears you have with this work, experiences, thoughts on how to increase awareness, and what you can do to further the conversation.


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