“Child Suicide” 2 words that sends shivers down my spine as I write them.
Words, that in my opinion should never go together, but unfortunately over 200 school children taking their own lives every year, according young suicide prevention charity Papyrus. And others believe this is the tip of the iceberg and these figures are rising.
In recent paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry, 7% of children have attempted suicide by the age of 17 and almost one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year. And experts say the figures could rise as a result of the pandemic.
These figures are disturbing. In fact they’re upsetting. It’s something we don’t want to think about. Something we definitely don’t want to talk about, but something we need to confront. As Child Suicide is a a daily reality for thousands of parents across the UK.
I first became aware of it when l was on a panel with a woman from Papyrus.
It was after the screening of my film “Steve” in Sevenoaks put on by the West Kent Mind. The discussion was fascinating and inspiring. Heartbreaking and hopeful. And as I walked back to my soulless, empty Travelodge room, I had time to reflect on what I heard. I remember closing the door and the silence was deafening, I felt angry, Flat. Empty. I suddenly had an aching for my kids. And the thought of not having them anymore. Of them feeling so much pain they didn’t want to live anymore, it made me want to throw up. I began to think about those parents who had lost children to suicide. I’d seen how it had destroyed Steve’s parents lives, and he was an adult who had become ill over years. How can a kid feel this way?
I decided that night that the next film I needed to make was going to be about the mental health of kids. And try to put a stop to child suicide. To try to make sense of what is going on.To try to arm parents and kids with the skills of mental fitness.
That was at the end of 2019. I began shooting a trailer. Planning it out. Then as we know the globe went into melt down and everything changed. Parents and kids were suddenly forced to adjust. To home school. To deal with 24 hours a day every day with each other. And it pushed all our mental health to the edge. And I’m not talking about those kid who are vulnerable or living in homes where they might suffer abuse. All of us were pushed. So called “Happy” kids were pushed.
And when I’ve talked to the parents who have lost children to suicide, they are just normal kids. From normal families. No major issues. Just things started spinning and got out of control. So as we start to climb out of the hole that Covid has created, we know that some children aren’t going to be able to cope.
That’s why we are going to create a positive, problem solving film. Created with the same team that made “Steve” it will be a 90 minute documentary that doesn’t just talk about the issues, but offers solutions by highlighting great people doing great things that inspire kids and parents.
I’ll do this by taking the issues head on. By talking to the kids, the parents, the teachers. Then the experts, on why it’s happening and what we can do to help. From nature to technology. From peer pressure to modern society and the expectations we put on ourselves as both parents and children.
So far I’ve filmed 5 interviews and created 2 animations and received over 100 videos from parents answering questions about their worries. We also have 34 interviews lined up and begin filming again in July. That’s where you come in. To be part of the solution. To prepare kids for the future. And help save lives.
To do this we need help with funding. So far We’ve raised £12K. We need about £12K more. It could be 12 companies donating £1K each or a bucket of funding for £3K or £5K. In return you’ll get your name/logo on the film, and I’ll do a screening, talk, Q&A at your company. Here is the Crowdfunder to show you where we got to: OurKidsOurLives https://gofund.me/4277927d
This is the approach we took with “Steve” which resulted in 49 screenings up and down the country before lock down. Since then I’ve had 100’s of emails saying how the film either saved or changed their lives. Here is the Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEp5ck-DYzI and the Full film - stevedocumentary.com
But it also inspired TALK CLUB, a mental fitness charity I co-founded. Which now has over 2000 men and 52 clubs around the world. wetalkclub.com and we hope to use what we’ve learnt over the past 3 years to talk honestly and frankly about the issues.
Because if we’re not scared of the word. If we can talk openly about suicide, like we can with cancer, and blame ill health, not ourselves, then we can start to to tackle it openly. Because if we do that, we can teach kids and parents to change this ever increasing pattern of bad mental health, to breed a generation of mentally fit kids and help end young suicide as well as later in life.
So please join us. Watch, Donate, Share: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ourkidsourlives
Insta: @STEVEDOCUMENTARY @Madewithltd @TalkClubUK @ourkidsourlives
Twit: @SteveDoco @benakers @Madewith_ @TalkClubUK @ourkidsourlives
If you haven’t seen it here is my TED talk about my journey.
Or if you want to get in contact and say hello: Ben@MadeWithUK.com