Current statistics report more than 44,193 people in the U.S. die by suicide each year with each death affecting an average of 100 people (1). When pressed, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know a friend or co-worker who has suffered this type of loss. Sadly, because suicide rates have been steadily increasing in the U.S. to a 30-year high in 2016 (2), there continues to be new and widening audiences to reach.
Suicide is a problem in all cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Over the last few years wide news coverage of celebrity suicides, bullied teen deaths, and the disturbing trend of live-streamed cases, has brought this topic out of the deep shadows and helped the push for public awareness and prevention gain traction. The universal stigma, judgment, and shame those left behind face, however, has not waned, keeping many survivors of these tragedies trapped, as I was, in their pain and silence.
When I began sharing my story I noticed that every time I did, others would open up about their own history with the subject, many who rarely had ever spoken about it before. I was both comforted and dismayed by how closely many of their stories mirrored my own in struggling to live a “normal” life of adult responsibilities and relationships over the years.
Through my volunteer work and participation in a support group, I’ve also seen the power my standing as a “long-term survivor” has as a living example to the newly bereaved. We show them that the intense pain is, somehow, survivable.
We confirm that all thoughts and feelings are valid. We offer reassurance that there is no marker where you “get closure” or “get over it,” but the edges somehow do get softer over time.
The film’s intention is to foster a better understanding of this terrible human experience, shedding light on the complexities of suicidal thinking and the unique difficulties these tragedies bequeath to those left behind. Film has always been a powerful way to broach difficult subjects and normalize public discussion and The Silent Goldens will initiate conversations that can help prevent suicides and create a space for those who have suffered this traumatic loss to share.
Our call to action is to start those conversations.