HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ★★★1/2 - Video Librarian | VOICE AWARD - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationCounseling • Suicidology • Mental Health • Psychology • Crisis Intervention • Family Studies
Date of Completion: 2017 | Run Time: 62 & 94 minutes | Language: English with Spanish subtitles | Captions: Yes, English and Spanish | Includes: Transcript, Toolkit & Discussion Guide (English & Spanish), and Screening Checklist | Director: Lisa Klein | Producers: Doug Blush, Julian Cautherley, Kurt Norton & Patricia Dileva
A suicide attempt survivor is on a mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of unguarded courage, insight, pain, and humor. Along the way, she discovers a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action. THE S WORD chronicles her journey and these survivors in a powerful feature documentary that puts a human face to a topic that has long been stigmatized and buried with the lives it has claimed. Suicide affects people of all ages, races, faiths, ethnicities, gender presentations, sexual orientations, professions, and so much more.
THE S WORD skillfully weaves stories of survivors from a cross-section of America including LGBT, African American and Asian American communities, who candidly share their profoundly emotional stories of trauma, mental health challenges, survival, and advocacy. The film’s narrative flows organically from one story to the next, starting with personal moments and building emotional momentum before widening out to show how their journeys are driving the national movement to take the “S” word from unthinkable to preventable.
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Bryan J. Sajecki, University at Buffalo
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED "This film will be a strong addition to any academic library, especially one with a focus on mental health and psychology. In addition, the film would benefit a younger audience in high schools and the general population."
Video Librarian ★★★½
"Presented in both its full-length version and a one-hour abridged edition, this powerful film about a tragically perennial mental health issue is highly recommended."
"Via comments from psychologists and other experts, viewers learn the importance of bringing suicide and mental illness out in the open, breaking the stigma and silence. Even those participants who admit to ongoing struggles speak of hope for the future. An original music score accents this program that raises suicide-prevention awareness and opens avenues of discussion in an ultimately life-affirming fashion."
Oakwood School, CA | Ivan Johnson, Dean of Students
"As a school administrator, I hear from parents and students everyday about the stress that our students are under. As educators we have a responsibility to do better; no kid should feel alone and feel like they have nobody who sees them. Changing the culture of our schools and changing the emotional experience our students are having is vital for our future as educators. THE S WORD will become one of the great tools for educators to start doing this work on a higher and more effective level."
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, Impact Entrepreneur and Professional Speaker in Suicide Prevention
"THE S WORD will move your soul. Through both laughter and tears we walk on a journey with suicide attempt survivors and loss survivors as they find pathways back to hope and healing. When we debuted the movie with a private screening before it's official launch at the American Association of Suicidology's Annual Conference, the thunderous applause and standing ovation could be heard all over Phoenix. Lisa Klein is a genius -- able to capture the struggles and triumphs of all of the men and women in her film with such tenderness and compassion. This is by far the best depiction of a wide range of lived experiences with suicide that I have ever seen. It's bound to bring the ‘the S word’ out of the closet into the light of recovery."
Congregation Rodef Sholom | JoAnne Forman, LMFT, REAL Mental Health Initiative Program Coordinator
"Screening THE S WORD in our community had a powerful impact on breaking through the silence that so often surrounds talking about the topic of suicide. It has helped decrease stigma and provide space for people with lived experience to share their own stories and be supported in new ways by our community. THANK YOU for this beautiful film!"
Pivotal Points | Kevin Briggs, Speaker, Author & Veteran
"THE S WORD takes you on a profound journey through the minds of people who are struggling with mental health issues. Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. It is superbly done and a must-see for anyone interested in behavioral health.”
American Association of Suicidology | Dr. Wiliam Schmitz Jr., PsyD, Past President
"THE S WORD has the potential to do more for suicide prevention in one year than I have in my career… We can all learn from this film."
Southeast Louisiana Veterans’ Health Care System | April Foreman, Psychologist
"I kept finding that I was crying and laughing at the same time. No one expects to be inspired by a documentary on suicide but viewers will leave informed, inspired and uplifted."
The University of Arizona | Galen McCaw, Media Specialist with Landmark Stories
"THE S WORD reminds us of the humanity of all people, of all walks of life, who have stood at the precipice of taking their own lives. The film's integrity is rooted in its honest depiction of the complexity of the problem of suicide, managing to be optimistic without ever straying from authenticity."
2017 SAMHSA Voice Award | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Official Selection | Heartland Film Festival
Official Selection | Cleveland International Film Festival
Official Selection | Port Townsend Film Festival
Official Selection | San Francisco Indie Fest
Official Selection | Sedona Film Festival
University of Michigan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Utah
Western Michigan University
Iowa Crisis Center
University of Texas
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH LISA KLEIN
Director of THE S WORD and OF TWO MINDS
Lisa Klein is an award-winning director and writer dedicated to crafting groundbreaking documentary features. Her most recent project, THE S WORD, is a documentary that tackles one of the most cloistered issues of our time through the emotional stories of suicide attempt and loss survivors.
In 2012, Lisa co-directed the award-winning film OF TWO MINDS, a journey into the lives of remarkable people living, struggling and triumphing with bipolar condition. She tours the country speaking and using her films to raise awareness of mental health issues. She is co-founder, with her husband Doug Blush, of MadPix Inc., an LA-based production company dedicated to producing character-driven stories that create global impact and social change. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California.
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH KELECHI UBOZOH
Featured in THE S WORD
Kelechi Ubozoh is a Nigerian-American writer, mental health advocate, and consultant. She has a large body of work in suicide prevention and is featured in THE S WORD. For nearly a decade, Kelechi has worked in the California mental health system in the areas of research and advocacy, community engagement, stigma reduction, and peer support. Her story of recovery has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, CBS This Morning with Gayle King, and Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin. Her first book with L.D. Green, We’ve Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health, was released in 2019 from North Atlantic Books and Penguin Random House.
Kelechi explains her suicide attempt at age 23 this way: “I wore a mask every day, pretending to be happy when I was not.” She has since shed the mask and realizes that asking for help is not a weakness and has transformed her struggles into action.
Both the 62 and 94 minute versions contain closed captions. They follow the same storyline, but a few non-essential scenes were pared down or edited out. The filmmaker also eliminated several obscenities that were in the feature-length version to make it more appropriate for viewing by teenagers. Whenever possible, the filmmaker prefers people to show the full version as it tells a fuller story, but the one hour version is also very effective.