People often suffer in silence when struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts — but they don’t have to face it alone.
Creative studio Convicts launched “Take Away the Shame” on Tuesday, a campaign in honor of National Depression and Health Screening Month. The PSA features interviews with real suicide attempt survivors and victims’ loved ones, who share their stories in their own words.
A man reveals he attempted suicide right before the pandemic, but didn’t tell anyone. Another man recounts finding out that his sister had taken her life.
But the film also includes moments of hope. In one clip, a woman shares that she texts “random I love yous” to people because you never know what someone is going through.
“Your pain is not an inconvenience,” the woman says. “Somebody needs to hear that you’re not OK.”
The PSA was a “passion project” for Convicts, according to Tom Law, partner and executive creative director.
“We wanted to give the microphone to the people that can tell the story best,” said Law. “We wanted to make a really safe space, champion their stories and make sure that it's done with sincerity.”
Sourcing people for the PSA was an important part of the process. Nathaniel Lezra, the films' director, hoped to cast a diverse group including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. He reached out to a friend who was tapped into mental health support groups for help.
Lezra pitched the idea as a way for people to “take control of their narratives” and share their stories in a “warm, empathic space,” he said.The idea struck a chord with some people, who reached out to him directly.
“Suddenly, I had people of all sorts in my DMS, texting and emailing me,” Lezra said. “Up until literally the night before [filming] I was talking to people and putting together this list of really wonderful people who showed up.”
Convicts prioritized sensitivity and education throughout the campaign — for both the company itself and the audience.
“Not only are we making sure that we are doing the right thing, getting the right people and making a safe space for them to use their voice, but [we’re] also educating ourselves so that next time, we can approach it with education and sensitivity,” said Law.
For instance, language matters when it comes to mental health and suicide. The term “commit suicide” stigmatizes suicide as a sin or a crime.
“I had to grapple with the fact that there are nuances that I didn't even understand or predict,” said Lezra. “I had to reconcile that I was really coming from a place of ‘I really don't know anything,’ and it was this humbling experience.”
Convicts hopes that the PSA will inspire survivors and victims’ loved ones to share their stories and for others to give them the safe space to do so.
“The main goal with any mental health PSA is to make sure that the conversation never ends,” said Law.