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Film screening teaches suicide prevention

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People packed into two dark auditoriums at the Galaxy 8 Theater Wednesday night to watch a movie and talk about and gain some insight into a difficult subject: suicide.

The Tessa Anderson Suicide Prevention Coalition, a project within the local nonprofit Embrace, Inc., hosted a double screening of the feature-length documentary film, “Suicide, the Ripple Effect.” The coalition is named after Tessa Anderson, a 14-year-old Roswell girl who committed suicide in 2014.

The film tells the story of Kevin Hines, a man with bipolar disorder who, at the age of 19, jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in an unsuccessful attempt to take his own life.

Hines, now a well-known mental health and wellness advocate and writer, recounts his attempted suicide, ongoing battle with bipolar disorder, how the attempt to take his life has impacted himself and his loved ones and his work around the world to reduce the stigma associated with suicide.

The film also features interviews with mental health experts and others working to address and remove the stigma associated with suicide.

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Representatives of groups meant to bring attention to the problem of suicide set up display tables and distributed informational material to people.

Jennifer Smith, of the coalition, told the audience in one of the auditoriums before the film said that the misconceptions and stigma attached to the issue of suicide need to be removed. She said the stigma has made those who struggle with suicide to be judged and isolate themselves, thereby making the problem worse.

“We want you to know it is vital to replace that stigma with knowledge and empathy for the person in crisis,” Smith said before the film.

A short group discussion took place after the screening.

Though no questions were asked, some members of the audience — many who either themselves attempted suicide or know someone who has — spoke and opened up to the crowd.

One young man, who did not identify himself, said someone close to him has attempted suicide. The man said when the person does something such as throwing things out of her room, tearing up her posters or gives personal possessions away, he gets worried.

Angie Gomez, the mother of Tessa Anderson, said people should always tell someone when a person is exhibiting behavior that it might be suicidal.

“Tell a teacher, counselor, somebody, because would you rather have a mad friend or a dead friend,” Gomez asked?

She said that one of the biggest misconceptions about suicide is that talking about it is somehow harmful and will encourage other people to attempt it.

“It’s such a miscommunication when it comes to suicide, everybody thinks it is such a taboo subject and it is not. We need to talk about it more because we have a lot of problems here in Roswell when it comes to our youth and mental health disorders,” Gomez said.

People who are in need of assistance can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.