As much comfort, validation, and healing I’ve gained from opening up about my mother’s suicide to other survivors and then getting my family to speak for The Silent Goldens documentary, it is hard sometimes to think about having “lost” 30 years to the issues that arose from her death and (not) dealing with it as a family in silence.
With full understanding that I may not have had the capacity to be helped back then, that everything I have done and gone through makes me the person to do this project now, or my passion about focusing all my efforts on this subject may not have been there without the long silence, but I can’t help but wonder at times what road I might have taken had I been open to the subject from the start.
When I was young I never had a clear vision of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m not sure I was actually aware I had very many choices other than one of the helping professions my family were all in, like doctor, social worker, or teacher. I’ve always believed that had my mother not died, I would have defaulted to following in her social work footsteps.
That didn’t happen, but the sense of purpose I felt when I was hit with the idea, and the sense of how it could help others shares their own stories, helped reconcile the path I chose in television with the social service element I always felt was missing and hope this film is a platform for me to continue to serve the suicide survivors community.
Over the last couple of years working for suicide prevention and awareness, I have been amazed by those who have been able to speak so much sooner and to find ways to combine their work or passions with the lessons from their loss much, much earlier than I was. I am also lucky to have become friends with some of them.
One of those people is actress/producer Kelly O’Malley who lost her father in 2011. Her studies The Stella Adler Academy of Theater and Acting inspired her to use theater reach those affected by suicide and in the Spring of 2016, she premiered A Light In Dark Places, a play festival showcasing 5 one acts pieces related to suicide and loss. The festival, now performed every September during National Suicide Prevention Week, has grown exponentially every year in submissions and attendance and raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The show also run in Kelly’s hometown of Dallas in Fall 2019. Kelly also started producing music events for suicide awareness in LA and hopes to get other art forms involved to“create a community that breaks isolation, one where there is no stigma about suicide or mental illness and where reaching out for help feels safe and even necessary.”
I have had the privilege of attending most of the performances the last two years and the plays are illuminating. The dedication and sensitivity to the subject of the entire crew and cast has also always been impressive. Brava Kelly! I’ll be back this year!