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September 2020

Successful September Synopsis

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Ruth speaking at conference on 09.26

In no specific order, the Jewish High Holy Days, Suicide Prevention Month and my birthday have wrapped up.  That means September is over.  I’m a little physically tired, but mentally energized and excited to build on the momentum behind the project created during a whirlwind few weeks.

Last Saturday was my conference-speaking debut at USC Verdugo Hills.  I gave a 50-minute presentation, which included 10 minutes worth of new conversation clips from the film.  Over 250 people were registered and the audience was made up largely of mental health professionals and students.  Thanks to some very good, honest, and helpful friends who let me practice on them, I was actually pretty calm by the time things started, although since I could only see the host and the two other speakers, it was far less intimidating than the originally scheduled in-person conference would have been!

I barely remember doing it now, haven’t been beating myself up over anything I did or did not say, and  got lovely feedback all around – whatever actually happened – so I share the link.  I am the first speaker after the doctor’s welcome – it starts 5 minutes in.     Meeting Recording

After the talks, Zoom room meetings were open for Q&A sessions.  My sister surprised me by being there, but it was a great opportunity to both explain how our experiences with the silence differed than was shown in the clips.  A few conference-goers shared their own stories of silence and one woman said she was inspired now, decades down the line, to speak to her siblings about her family’s tragedy.  Exactly why I’m doing this.

Talk back after performance of “Bernie.” 09.09

Every Wednesday night in September I joined the cast and crew of A Light In Dark Places to speak in their Q&A sessions live after each week’s original short play related to suicide and hope.  I show up as a volunteer rep for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, but it’s my personal chance to feel super Hollywood.  Each play is being left up for a month so you can check them out.

A wonderful surprise opportunity arrived in my inbox in the middle of the month with an interview request from a Voice of America reporter for a Skype interview.  I answered the call and you can see the result here if you jump forward to 35:30.  CurrentTime TV

Last week I turned in a written interview to an Egyptian site about surviving suicide loss and the film as well.  I’ll share that when it is posted.  Suicide is a worldwide problem and I can’t believe my wildest dream of making a worldwide impact with my message has already begun!

Finally, I added two segments to my Talking About Suicide Loss With… YouTube Series.  Both writer David Felton and his daughter, producer/director Caitlin, were colleagues when I worked at MTV.  They sadly lost Caitlin’s daughter, Charlotte, at age 15 in 2016.  They were open from the start and I was fascinated to hear how that affected their grieving process.  Here are the links for my blog about and the segments with David and Caitlin.

Now let’s see what October brings!!!!!

Talking About Suicide Loss with David and Caitlin Felton

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Today is Suicide Prevention Day and my YouTube short interview series, Talking About Suicide Loss With…, is back from our covid hiatus.   This series, along with The Silent Goldens documentary in production, is my effort to make the issues suicide loss survivors face part of the conversation that is, thankfully, growing nationwide about mental health.  Conversations bring healing.  Awareness brings help. Help brings hope.  

For this occasion I am posting two segments, David Felton and his daughter, Caitlin, who I had the privilege of working with at MTV in the early 1990s.  David was a writer and Caitlin was a producer in the promo department when we all helped bring the monumental Rolling Stone 25: The MTV Special – a retrospective of the magazine’s first 25 years – to the small screen.  And, yes, since then they have celebrated their 50th.

Tragedy struck in January 2016 when Caitlin’s daughter Charlotte took her own life.  I learned about it from mutual friends just as I was immersing myself in the suicide world and focusing on my own grief.  I was so impressed when I learned Caitlin, David, and their whole family where being open about Charlotte’s death.  

Less than three months after I saw David perform in a stage show telling stories with two other former MTV “old-timers” about working there in the very early, very innovative days.  He spoke about his loss and I was so moved by his words and impressed by his grace and ability to keep his composure that when I started the series, they both were at the top of my list to interview.  Since they didn’t have any silence to break, they could  speak to how that helped them each deal with their loss and healing from the moment it happened.  This past February – just before corona hit – I was able to connect with them in NY and am very grateful to them for sharing their stories. 

David won a Pulitzer Prize as part of the LA Times staff covering the Watts Riots before joining the staff of Rolling Stone magazine where he and fellow journalist David Dalton won a National Magazine Award in 1971 for their five part series on Charles Manson and his “family.”  He also edited Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In 1981, David got sober, gave up journalism and did some comedy writing before landing at MTV where he helped develop Beavis and Butthead and rose to Senior Vice President.  He is the author and editor of Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America.

David’s interview:

Caitlin began her career producing and directing promos and show opens at MTV Networks, winning numerous BDA, ACE & Telly Awards for her visual design and storytelling.  She became a sought-after commercial director and created ad campaigns for clients including Crayola, Subway and Medicare and filmed her own short documentary, Brick by Brick, about the creation of a brick cooperative the empowered Rwanda women to supply building materials for an education center.  Caitlin co-founded Detox Films with her husband, Barney, where she works as the Director/Creative Director.  

Caitlin’s interview: