I’m Good Because the Voices of Our Youth Are Being Heard

Im Good - Kiki Goshay

Kiki Goshay – ‘Not Alone’ Documentary Producer / Mental Health Activist

Teens often see what we cannot.

Three years ago, my teenage neighbor, Jacqueline Monetta, came to me for advice. She wanted to make a film to prevent teen suicide.  She lost her best friend to suicide when they were just 16. Her idea was simple.  Teens who had experienced depression or had attempted or thought about suicide share their stories on camera.

I asked her about her film experience.  She did not have any.

“So why a film?”

She said teens get all of their information from videos and the Internet.  So video or film was the way to “speak” to them.  Her mission was to reach teens experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.  She felt they needed to know that they weren’t alone.  She thought the best way to give them hope, was to hear this from another peer who had been through it.

I saw a unique opportunity in supporting Jacqueline’s mission to give teens a voice.  She was able to give us an insider’s vantage point.  I was inspired. I saw this as a feature film, not just a short video to stream online.  Before I knew it, I was ignoring all of the sensible voices in my head reminding me that this would take a herculean effort.  I was swept up in the power of what this film could do if I really empowered Jacqueline and the teens. I saw the beauty and brilliance in Jacqueline’s mission to let teens talk to each other.

I also saw something Jacqueline couldn’t see.  She needed to be in the film.  She didn’t want to insert herself into this.  It wasn’t about her.  She wanted to focus the lens on teens and let their voices be heard.  But I felt strongly that her story and her empathy added an important element and message.  She represents the “friends” who care and can make a difference. Jacqueline operates like someone coached in active listening and validation. Her concern, openness and desire to embrace are palpable.  She could model how to have this difficult discussion with a loved one.  She could show us how to ask tough personal questions in a way that allows someone to open up.  To trust.

We shot 13 teen to teen conversations with Jacqueline in a studio in San Rafael.  They covered everything from how mental illness feels, self-harm, hooking up, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, getting help and maintaining their mental health.  We had a treasure trove of information that would allow us to go further than Jacqueline’s original embracing message.  We could create a suicide prevention tool, complete with signs of mental illness, warning signs of suicide, how to talk to someone thinking of suicide and getting help.  And every word of this important information came candidly from a teen who experienced it.  

Teens featured in the film have joined us for community and school screenings.  Once again, they are candid about their lives, their struggles, their triumphs and their futures.  They are mental health crusaders who are putting themselves out there to comfort others experiencing a mental illness.

The film is available today on numerous video platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo On Demand, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft, Playstation.Store and cable like xfinity.  Netflix has also released Not Alone internationally.

With the help of educators and mental health experts, I created a curriculum to accompany the film in schools.  To order the film for classroom or school screenings, please visit the website of Roco Films, our educational distributor. http://www.rocoeducational.com/not_alone

See the trailer for ‘Not Alone’ here:

 

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