Film as Activism in Understanding Mental Health
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. On May 10, filmmaker Jacqui Blue released her second documentary, I Chose Life: Stories of Suicide & Survival.
This followed a virtual premiere screening event on the 7th. Jacqui Blue felt it was important to address suicide by covering multiple aspects of the issue. Her objective: to make a universal film. One that someone who never had a suicidal thought could watch and have a better understanding of or maybe even some empathy towards those who are in a mental struggle with themselves, fighting for their own life every day.
Reducing the Stigma around Conversations about Suicide
Jacqui is a single mom raising five pre-teen and teenage boys. She is concerned about the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 35 in the United States. While suicide is a leading cause of death, financial loss and sudden job loss are leading causes of suicide. And…no one is really talking about it. People merely acknowledge that these are problems we’re facing–or are soon going to be facing in even greater numbers. We need to talk about it. But no one is really saying much while suicide rates are going up. The purpose of this film is to reduce the stigma, improve mental health care, inspire change, and ignite much-needed conversations.
Jared Padalecki Advocates for Mental Health in I Chose Life
Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester on Supernatural,
is heavily featured throughout I Chose Life
. He talks about his own losses of loved ones to suicide as well as his own personal struggles. Jared openly talks about how he triumphed by learning how to rewire his own brain. He became outspoken about his own mental health issues and launched the Always Keep Fighting campaign
in March 2015, the same month production began on this documentary film.
Jared Padalecki is an advocate for mental health who is featured in the film I Chose Life.
Hip hop artist, actor and writer T.O.N.E-z, best known for his work on the show Justified and most recently his collaborations with rock’n’roll legend Tommy James, jumped on board with the documentary early on. He took part in a post-premiere livestream chat with Jacqui on the 7th, after the film was screened by viewers for the first time. T.O.N.E-z shares a story about the loss of one of his best friends to suicide and shares insight throughout the film. As an artist he talks about how writing poetry and writing songs is a great outlet for many people.
Sharing Personal Stories and Changing the Conversation around Mental Health
A narrative was created around personal stories that stemmed from deep conversations with people who lost children, siblings, parents, and friends to suicide. It includes everything from the history of suicide to the present-day coronavirus’ effect on our lives. Some issues discussed in the documentary include rates of suicide for people serving in the military and in veterans
. Other topics include mental health, the effects of nutrition on the brain, suicide risk factors and warning signs. Jacqui also discusses coping mechanisms and actions we can take. It is important to note that there are many aspects to suicide. People from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, creeds, colors, and from every land can be affected by it.
How to Watch I Chose Life: Stories of Suicide & Survival
Betsy Chasse is an award winning filmmaker (What The Bleep Do We Know?!, Song of the New Earth, Pregnant In America) and best selling author (Tipping Sacred Cows, It Came Out of My Vagina, Now What?! – A book on Conscious Parenting) You can learn more about her at www.betsychasse.net