Next week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It’s a great time to reflect on how far we’ve come in defeating stigma surrounding mental health in our culture and have open and honest conversations about what people are dealing with. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, and to celebrate we’ll be doing a very special live stream on World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10th – to show the film and do some question and answer about it.
You can find out more information about our WSPD17 event here: http://wspd.outofsightdocumentary.com
You can also check out our friends at To Write Love On Her Arms. and their campaign for this years World Suicide Prevention Day here: http://twloha.com/iwasmadefor
Unfortunately due to technical issues with our distribution partners, our video on demand release on Amazon Video has been delayed to Tuesday, September 19th. We’re disappointed that it won’t be available on WSPD17 but we hope that you will use the online screening opportunity to share the film with your friends and family on this special day.
Our DVD will be available in retail channels on October 17th. The Blu-ray release will follow later in Q4.
On September 10th, Out of Sight will be available for Prime streaming, rental, or purchase on Amazon Video in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Japan.
It will also be available on DVD, with a Blu-ray release to follow.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this journey over the past five years. We also have a new trailer to share with you today:
If you’re interested in booking a screening for your school or community center, please feel free to contact us at: email@example.com
Earlier this morning, we lost an iconic woman. Carrie Fisher, well-known as Princess Leia from Star Wars, passed away several days after an unexpected heart attack. She was additionally an author, speaker, and screenwriter.
Fisher was not merely known for these professional roles, however; in the years since her explosive leap to fame, she battled mental illness and substance abuse, struggles she candidly discussed with the public. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and used drugs from cocaine to pain-killers in an attempt to self-medicate. These quickly warped into addictions, and she overdosed after attempting sobriety in 1985. This moment was a wake-up call for her: she began pursuing professional treatment for her disorder, and turned to art to express what was taking place in her head. She wrote several semi-autobiographical works which have since been adapted to television and film, and spoke openly about her experiences in interviews in an attempt to educate viewers. “I am mentally ill,” she told ABC News. “I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.” Her work has not gone unnoticed; Harvard College honored her in 2016 with its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Culture Humanism for her work in destigmatizing mental illness and addiction.
Much of her troubled history was borne of her sudden popularity as a 19-year-old actress; particularly, she cited the immense pressure to meet unrealistic standards of beauty, being told to lose weight for her role as Princess Leia and sensing similar expectations for the Star Wars reboot thirty years later. These expectations occur both for those in the spotlight, and for those who look up to them, but they are always inhumane; they often lead to depression and poor self-image, eating disorders, and other mental crises such as those which Fisher experienced.
Refusing to be contained, Fisher instead shone a bright light on the dark, personal side of fame. She unwaveringly discussed the mental illnesses we often are expected to hide, transforming personal tragedy into unapologetic advocacy. Not content with being an icon for science-fiction, Carrie Fisher chose instead to be an icon for human beings.
*trigger warning – suicide*
When I was 14 years old, I tried to kill myself. It probably can’t be considered an official “attempt” because I never pulled the trigger of the loaded gun I had jammed in my mouth, but I wanted to.
This wasn’t a sudden decision either. I’d been struggling with severe depression for about five months prior and had been slowly sinking before that. On the outside, my life was great. I had a remarkably blessed childhood and entered high school with plenty of support and love backing me. I wasn’t bullied, abused, or outcast. I got good grades, participated in social activities, and got along with my family. Only it didn’t matter. I felt like a worthless piece of shit who couldn’t be grateful for her easy life and had too much pain and guilt to feel the love that was poured out every day.
So I came up with a plan. I didn’t want my death to hurt people, so I decided I would spend two weeks withdrawing from everyone (not that I wasn’t already doing that). I faked sickness to skip school, youth group, and drama. I deleted my social media accounts and stopped emailing/chatting with friends. My logic was so twisted that I honestly believed two weeks would be enough for people to stop caring and forget me.
At the end of the two weeks, on a Wednesday night, I waited until my parents went to Bible study and went upstairs to get a gun out of the safe in their room. I still wonder if the gun I took was the same one my mom used. I asked God to give me a sign if He wanted me to keep living. I didn’t feel anything. I hadn’t felt anything from Him in a long time. So I got the gun ready, lay back on the bed, and put the barrel in my mouth.
My parents have two skylights above their bed. It was a cloudy February night (have I mentioned I hate February?), and all I could see of the sky was a dark grey without any stars. So that was depressing. My finger toyed with the trigger but I never put any pressure on it, because right about then an intense calm came over me. I wish I could say it was caused by a beautiful revelation or spiritual awakening or even just a desire to live, but it wasn’t. It was caused by a realization: I had the power to remove myself from this pain, and I could do it anytime. I still wanted to kill myself, but it didn’t have to be now. I’ve never told anyone this part because it’s so uninspiring…I kept living because I could kill myself anytime? Yeah…that’s…beautiful. That will convince depressed kids all over the world to stay alive.
But for me, it was important. Rather than needing to decide right then whether I would live a long full life or die right there, I could decide to live another hour, another day, or just see what happened if I tried to finish out the school year. So I tried to think if there was something, anything, that I wanted to do before I died. I lay there looking up at the bleak sky unable to come up with any grand adventurous ideas when I realized there was one, seemingly very small, thing that I wanted. I wanted to see a blue sky again. So, just like that, I got up, put the gun away, locked the safe, and went back down to my room to do homework. I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel any better, I just made a decision. I decided to wait a little longer.
It took a long time to feel any different, but I slowly started to find other reasons to live. A couple of days after my decision, a friend chatted me up “just to check in”. That made me feel cared for, so I decided to live a little longer. Then someone at school told me they loved my hair. That made me feel pretty, so I decided to live a little longer. Someone I didn’t know wrote me a note to ask about my life and interests. That made me feel wanted, so I decided to live a little longer. My mom stayed up with me one night so we could talk. That made me feel heard, so I decided to live a little longer. I experienced a whole day without depression. That made me feel hopeful, so I decided to live a little longer. God gave me a shooting star one night. That made me feel loved, so I decided to live a little longer.
6 years later, I am still looking for reasons to live another day. I am far from through with this battle, but I cling to the possibility of defeating this illness. The summer of 2012, I got a whole season off. My head was clear, I felt healthy, I felt happy, and I just FELT with all of my heart. I hold on to that summer with so much hope that maybe someday I can feel that way more permanently. But if not, I’ll keep looking, grasping, holding tight to each subtle or screaming reason to keep fighting another minute. It may not seem like much, but it’s enough. Enough for today. Enough for now.
Oh, and you know that blue sky I was waiting for? I got hundreds of those.
“It gets better.”
It’s a common sentiment, and it makes sense. When you are struggling to get through the day, you want to hear that someday you will not have to struggle just to make it through – that things will get better. And with professional help, loving friends and family, and time, things do get better; I wouldn’t be an advocate for suicide prevention if I didn’t believe in that. I know that things will get better because they got better for me.
But I also know that sometimes after things get better, they get worse.
I was very depressed during the second semester of my freshman year of college. Then things got better and they were really good – I was making friends, I was involved on campus, my grades were good. But then in my junior year, things got worse.
We’re still here. We’re still working. We will not be silent.
We’ve had a fair bit of radio silence over the summer as we prepare for our public release early next spring and try to regain some normalcy in our life after the last few years of production. In June we had the incredible experience of not only having our festival premiere at Southside Film Festival but also winning their Linny and Beall Fowler Audience Award for Best Feature Film. This was an absolute shock and joy to all of us, and we couldn’t have managed it without the army of support we’ve had behind us. Both of our screenings were packed to capacity, and they were two of the biggest affirmations we’ve had yet that our message is something people are connecting with. None of us expected to take home an award from Southside; we were shocked to even have the opportunity to screen at such a wonderful and respected festival in our own backyard. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support us at SSFF.
Last month we also found out that we were named an Honorable Mention for Best Documentary at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 2016 Voice Awards. Other honorable mentions included important films we have all been moved by this year, such as He Named Me Malala and Anthony Bourdain’s Heroin: Cape Cod. It’s a true honor to be included in this community of amazing filmmakers making a difference.
Now we’re back into full fledged college-screening season. We have another screening at East Stroudsburg University this month on September 27th at 7PM. We’re working on finalizing several additional screenings to be announced shortly. We’d love to bring the film to your school or community this fall – get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Our plans for the winter include getting ready for a DVD and streaming release in the first half of 2017. We really can’t wait to share it with you.
Since today is World Suicide Prevention Day 2016, we’d like to take this time to say thank you, once again. Thank you to all the groups fighting to help defeat stigma and to educate. None of this would have been possible without To Write Love On Her Arms, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Trevor Project, SAMHSA, many different branches of NAMI, Aevidum, as well as groups that promote filmmaking that benefits the community like From the Heart Productions and HaydenFilms. Thank you to every single person who volunteered over the last four years with social media, or transcription, or editing, or promotion. Thank you to those who helped us screen the film across the country in schools because they believed in this. Thank you to the team at Southside Film Festival for considering our film worthy of screening and everyone who voted. We are so honored to have been able to have these experiences.
What are you going to do on #wspd2016? Talk to your friends, talk to your loved ones, take a stand to say that we will not be silent about the stigmas preventing so many from getting the care they need. Donate to organizations in your community that help and speak out against victim-shaming or symptom blaming. Speak out. This is our legacy; this is how we make a difference.
For anyone who has been following our film for the last few months, it’s pretty clear that we’ve faced a number of setbacks in the form of screening cancellations. These cancellations are not only a disappointment for the crew, but also lead to a financial burden as its a pretty severe interruption in our budget. We now have a number of screenings coming up back to back (more on that to be announced soon) and need your help continuing to make these screenings possible within any schools budget. Every cent donated at the link below goes to our screening fund, which helps specifically with all the expenses of taking the show on the road to colleges and high schools.
It’s hard to imagine a wilder ride than 2015 was for this film. It really makes me wonder where we’ll be in a year. A year ago we had just released our twelve minute promotional preview of the film to a jaw-dropping amount of response. We still had months of work left on the film and had no absolutely clue where we’d be today, but something was happening.
I won’t deny that updates from us have been sorely neglected for most of this year; we are, as ever, a skeleton crew of volunteers. All of our energy has been poured into work behind the scenes on preparing the final changes to the film, reshooting certain pickup shots with better equipment, and organizing test screenings with various audiences.
A photo posted by Kyle Mahaney (@kpmgeek) on
Becca Tomlinson, our lead editor, took over as composer for the film from our audio engineer Graham Vasquez in July. She has worked tirelessly to give us a wonderful score that not only keeps the viewer engaged but helps manage the film’s emotional balance. The amount of the time that has been put into polishing our presentation over the last months is staggering. Wonderful organizations like “Spread Sunshine for Josh” and “Origins Gallery” gave us invaluable opportunities to test the film in front of an audience, and the feedback helped us tweak the film significantly.
In October we were invited to travel to the University of North Texas to show the film in partnership with their Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation, in addition to local mental health professionals and NAMI representatives.
A photo posted by Kyle Mahaney (@kpmgeek) on
So we flew down to Denton, TX and had an absolute blast meeting all the people at UNT who are trying to make a difference in the stigmas surrounding mental health. Talking to students hoping to pursue a career in counseling or mental-health fields was particularly refreshing. We were hosted by Professor Amy Trail and her family, and they showed us true Texan hospitality while we were there. We really couldn’t have asked for a better place to introduce our film to the world than UNT’s beautiful campus during the fall.
Following the screening we sat on a panel discussion with local mental health professionals and advocates, moderated by a UNT student. This discussion ran longer than the film itself, and was one of the most reaffirming and insightful evenings I can think of over the last four years.
— NAMI Denton County (@namidenton) October 16, 2015
We followed up our Texas adventure with a screening at Drexel University for their Active Minds club in December. Once again, we were met with a positive audience response that promoted some great discussions about mental health in a college environment. We will be traveling to Harrisburg College of Science & Technology on Februrary 9th for another college screening. We’re working hard to plan more college academic screenings for this spring before hopefully hitting the festival circuit this summer.
Thank you so much for continuing to follow and support this film. We cannot wait to share it with you later this year. As always, you can support us by donating or buying a t-shirt, or simply through continuing to spread our message through word of mouth. Here’s to a wild ride ahead.