The Maneater

MU students working on suicide awareness documentary

The film aims to provide a deeper understanding of mental illness, self-harm and suicide.

Photos of production behind the scenes of “Wake Up: A Documentary Film,” which aims to educate audiences about suicide prevention. Courtesy of Alex Lindley

After senior Alex Lindley lost a close friend to suicide, he vowed to make something positive of the tragedy.

Lindley and his fellow members of the Mizzou Suicide Prevention Coalition decided to produce a documentary film that provides a deeper understanding of mental illness, self-harm and suicide.

“We’re basically looking for a better way to deal with the loss and promote some sort of social change,” Lindley said. “He was the last person you would expect to take his own life. He was bright and popular with a great future ahead of him and no one saw it coming. People need to understand that suicide doesn’t discriminate. It’s about starting the conversation about suicide.”

The student group’s production, “Wake Up: A Documentary Film,” aims to encourage audiences to become conscious about the negative effects of suicide.

Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for people of ages 10 to 24 years old in the United States, according to data from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health. Missouri rates of suicide are 15.9 per 100,000 people in 2012, which is higher than the national average of 13 per 100,000 people.

“It seems to be gaining momentum now,” Lindley said. “It just seems like the perfect time to try and produce this. With mentions of (suicide) in Oscar acceptance speeches and the loss of the state auditor, certain circumstances are falling into place. I think if it is done right, we can make a difference.”

Tom Schweich, the Missouri state auditor, took his own life in February, bringing additional attention to the issue.

MSPC aims to raise awareness and funds to “help connect MU students to resources for suicide prevention on the campus,” according to the MSPC website.

Lindley said the MSPC is an “excellent opportunity for passionate students to get involved.”

“Right now, the main priority is to spread the word,” Lindley said. “Get people talking about suicide.”

“Wake Up” began filming in March and is currently in production.

“After our production is released, we’re going to try and get it picked up by mental health organizations,” Lindley said. “Hopefully, spread it to other universities across the nation, include public speaking, and try to get as many people to be aware as possible, talk about suicidal warning signs and start the conversation about it.

Suicide can no longer be swept under the rug, Lindley said.

“A lot of people think it’s awkward or uncomfortable to talk about, but the prevalence is so high, that maybe if they see a film put on by a group of college kids, it would encourage a lot of people to start opening up,” Lindley said. “Mental health is not something that can be ignored.”

Donations can be made to support the efforts of “Wake Up” on its website

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