LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Every and Every Day” represents studies of courage, both in life and in the MTV documentary about young people and suicide.
In open and insightful conversations, nine survivors share what marginalized them and how they struggled and continue to struggle to continue to lay claim to themselves and their right to life.
With young people suicides, which have already increased in recent years, and the relentless pandemic that is under pressure, a film that gives voice to those who attempted or considered suicide is gaining urgency. It will air ad-free on MTV on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. EST.
One young person, a college student named Hannah, did not hesitate when invited by director Alexandra Shiva and executive producer Sheila Nevins to take part in the project. (The last names of the participants have been omitted from the documentation.)
“It was an instant ‘yes’,” said Hannah in an interview. “I have to do this, I have to take this opportunity to tell my story. Hopefully the kids and people out there who watch will hear my story. Hopefully they will see that I have overcome so many obstacles and they can too.”
She emphasized what others say in the film: It’s important to realize that you can’t do it alone.
“I had really big problems and I didn’t reach out for help and if I didn’t reach for help it almost killed me,” said Hannah. “I really want you to see what not to do.”
Family and friends also play a crucial role, Shiva said.
“If you think someone is thinking about suicide, ask them. If you talk about it, someone is no longer at risk,” she said.
According to a September 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate among people ages 10 to 24 rose 57.4% from 6.8 per 100,000 in 2007 to 10.7 im from 2007 to 2018 By comparison, the report said the rate had been statistically stable from 2000 to 2007.
The pandemic appears to be further undermining mental health in America. According to a survey published by the CDC last August, young adults ages 18 to 24 are among the groups most susceptible to thoughts of suicide.
“Every and Every Day” does not deal with statistics or experts, but gives the floor to the participants and their individual stories. There is also a group zoom discussion where the young adults can connect with each other and indirectly with the audience.
With quiet, undramatic honesty, they talk about how long they’ve battled depression – many since middle school – and what it took to realize that they couldn’t survive without support. For colored people, skeptical attitudes of the community towards mental health treatment and the pressure of expectations are cited as further burdens.
“I grew up with the idea of always having to be perfect, always having to represent black excellence,” said Hannah.
Latino and Indian American participants said they addressed the prejudice that psychological problems are shameful, while LGBTQ participants share their own burdens. Others in the film prove that no one is exempt, including those who come from happy homes, wealth, or who avoid facing ethnic or other prejudices.
The filmmakers wanted to make sure that “we had enough experience so that someone who tunes into MTV doesn’t feel like they’re not represented. They can actually see themselves in someone,” Shiva said. The film will also be available on mtv.com and the MTV app, and later on Pluto TV.
Attempts were also made to include the very different therapies, some of which contained medication and some of which did not, that the participants found valuable.
The Jed Foundation, which aims to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among teenagers and young adults, partnered with MTV Documentary Films on the project and was one of the groups Shiva and producer Lindsey Megrue looked for after participants helped.
Donna Satow of the foundation said she admires the brave openness of those in Every and Every Day and believes they will carry weight with their peers who watch the film. She and her husband Phil started the foundation after losing their youngest son Jed to suicide in 1998.
“So many young people suffer in silence. They really don’t want to talk about these feelings,” said Donna Satow. “So when you see your own age group speak and speak in a language that they actually speak and understand, it is powerful and really takes the conversation to the next step.”