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Let’s talk about it: Documentary brings dialogue on suicide prevention

Lisa Klein’s “S-Word” documentary was shown at the Ohio Union Theater on Monday, Sept. 10. Credit: Shelby Metzger | Lantern Reporter

National Suicide Prevention Month stimulates discussion about the statistics surrounding suicide, but for film director Lisa Klein, numbers weren’t enough.

She wanted to open a dialogue.

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, Klein’s “The S-Word” — a documentary advocating suicide prevention — was screened at the Ohio Union on Monday.

This event took place the night before an Ohio State student fell and died from the Lane Avenue Parking Garage on Tuesday morning.

The film features the stories of two individuals who attempted suicide as well as people from a multitude of backgrounds who have lost loved ones to suicide. It aims to expose suicide, which has long been viewed as a taboo subject, as a new topic of conversation.

Klein said she used the documentary in an attempt to increase the dialogue surrounding suicide. The impact of suicide on her own life inspired her interest in prevention and education efforts.

“When I was in college, both my brother and father died by suicide,” Klein said. “And, as you can imagine, it changed the course of my life.”

Klein began using creative outlets to deal with the deaths of her family members. She began writing and created a film about bipolar disorder, “Of Two Minds,” in 2012. After finishing the film, she said she remembers thinking she was done with creating content surrounding mental health.

“But I wasn’t,” Klein said. “I realized I needed to do this, I needed to do a film that dealt directly with suicide.”

She wanted to talk to other survivors of loss and hear their stories while sharing her own. However, when directing the film, she uncovered something she never expected.

“I found this thriving community of people who had attempted suicide and survived, and I just think their stories are so important because they provide hope,” Klein said. “They provide connections. They show people that they’re not alone.”

Klein said she hoped the screening would help members of the community feel connected and remind them they aren’t alone. She also hoped it would give others a judgment-free outlet to talk about their own experiences with suicide and begin to break the silence that surrounds the issue.

The screening was hosted by the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition and The Ohio State University Suicide Prevention Program. Several other organizations were present at the showing, including Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide, a student group dedicated to suicide prevention. They hoped students would attend the screening and spread Klein’s message.

“The aim of [the screening], of course, is to reach as many people as possible,” Samantha Woodring, co-president of BCAS, said. “I’m hoping that even though we can’t have the whole campus here, we’ll still be able to have the people who were here reach out and connect with other people.”

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