In 2018, Jason Reid and his wife, the parents of four teens, went away for the weekend, only to experience the most harrowing moment for any parent: their youngest son Ryan texted to say he was going to kill himself.
Motivated by a note left by Ryan to “tell my story,” the grieving Southern California father embarks on a quest to understand what he could have done differently and the role that cell phone use and unfettered access to the internet may have played. Jason’s quest begins with Mariangela Abeo, a Seattle-native whose photography project Faces of Fortitude profiles survivors of suicide.
Parents Bobbi and Ed Villareal, co-founders of Project 99, a Southern California non-profit that brings awareness about mental health and suicide prevention to high schools, share their experiences after losing their 16-year-old son Diego to suicide in 2015. They describe warning signs that they had missed, such as increased moodiness and pulling away from friends.
Flying to Seattle, Jason attends a group meeting with young suicide survivors who discuss the significance of social media, bullying, isolation, and what it feels like when depression spirals out of control. Jason then visits a wilderness camp in Nevada City, CA, where Collin Kartchner, with #SaveTheKids, warns teen campers (and parents) about the impact of unmonitored cell phone use and social media access. Peter Mayfield of the Gateway Mountain Center in Truckee, CA, shares the tenants of his program which helps kids develop a stronger sense of self through physical activity in the outdoors.
Jason’s journey concludes at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in Los Angeles, which provides mental health services and operates the Suicide Crisis Line Center, part of the 1-800-273-TALK National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network which fielded over 1000 calls a week from teens (in 2019), with the youngest caller identifying as 8 years old. Finally, Jason speaks with Dr. Mark Goulston, PhD, a psychiatrist, and suicide prevention expert, who explains the chemical impact of constant stimulation and adrenaline on young people’s brains while sharing techniques to break through to uncommunicative teens.
A production of Cinema Libre Studio and Oak Hollow Studios. Directed by David Fried and produced by Philippe Diaz and Beth Portello. The film is edited by Tom Von Doom with original music by Reid Willis.
Complete funding by Cinema Libre Studio and Oak Hollow Studios.