Suicide is on the rise like never before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the U.S. suicide rate has jumped 30 percent from 2000 to 2016, and suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. This may come as no surprise in a time when depression, anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD, and addiction are so prevalent in our culture. And suicide prevention expert Dr. Mark Goulston sees these shocking statistics as a burning platform to share an urgent message of help and hope to anyone who’s at risk.
“Even with increased awareness surrounding the mental health issues that can lead to suicide, this tragic epidemic continues to claim lives,” says Dr. Goulston, one of the country’s leading experts on suicide prevention and the co-creator of the new video/podcast documentary Stay Alive, which is available here on YouTube (#StayAliveNow). “To stop it, we need to address suicide prevention head-on and not only find a way to reach people who are at risk, but promote understanding and compassion in society at large so that we can all identify and help the vulnerable people in our population. And there is no time to waste.”
Stay Alive is moderated by Dr. Goulston and features suicide prevention advocate Rayko and suicide survivor Kevin Hines. In the year 2000, Hines jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and lived. He is the subject of the award-winning documentary Suicide: The Ripple Effect and is the author of Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt. Stay Alive’s message centers around the process of moving from despair—being unable to connect with others or find a reason to live—and on to healing. The raw and intimate personal disclosures, paired with proven approaches to help those who are suffering, make this program uniquely valuable and unlike any other you have ever seen.
“Recognizing the upturn in depression and the corresponding increase in suicide over the past ten years, my wife, Linda, and I simply wanted to produce Stay Alive as a personal contribution to help people who are in an unimaginably tough spot in life,” says co-creator and executive producer Frank Kilpatrick. “We are hopeful that this film documentary offers both a message of support as well as specific and useful resources and information. The combination of these three individuals together on screen creates a really compelling story. Dr. Goulston offers wisdom as a world-renowned suicide prevention expert; Kevin Hines is a survivor sharing his insider view of regret and redemption; and musician Rayko represents the creative community (particularly the music industry) that is so often affected by suicide.”
This outreach is the impetus for creating Stay Alive. The 75-minute documentary delivers messages of education, compassion, and caring for those who are in deep despair, along with guidance for their families and friends who love them. And because suicide knows no boundaries, it’s vital to share the message that anyone’s life can be impacted by suicide, whether they’re young, old, rich, or poor.
“Suicide prevention isn’t just about helping the person who is afflicted,” says Dr. Goulston. “To really move the needle toward saving lives, we need to remove the societal stigma surrounding suicide.”
Goulston explains that this process begins with helping the people who care about at-risk individuals gain understanding and offer support. The next step is helping society recognize the true struggles of those at risk. Misunderstanding and judgment only further isolate a person who is suicidal. Instead, it’s time for more compassion. When everyone understands how much suffering is really going on, we have a real chance to reach out and save lives.
“Anyone struggling with the will to live needs to know that there is hope,” concludes Dr. Goulston. “Stay Alive offers a message of empathy and support to anyone suffering and helps them find a healthy way to move from turmoil to peace.”
If you or someone you love needs help, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.