Madpix Films Date: 2017
THE S WORD is a powerful feature documentary that puts a human face on a topic that has long been stigmatized and buried with the lives it has claimed. The film gives a platform to those with lived experience – people who have attempted to take their own lives and survived to tell their stories. These are the voices that have been silenced for so long and their stories could save lives. Capturing personal revelations and surprising moments of humor, THE S WORD opens a door on this most taboo of subjects through the eyes of the people who have been there and are now committed to preventing others from getting to that edge.
Our central subject, attempt survivor Dese’Rae Stage, embarks on a mission to find fellow survivors and share their stories and portraits with the world. Suicide has affected her since she can remember; as a child, a family friend died by suicide, and as a teenager, her best friend died by suicide. She herself attempted suicide at 23 and continues to struggle through cycles of loneliness and depression. After moving to New York and pursuing a career in photography, she discovers that many of her own questions can be addressed using her camera, and she begins to explore life on the other side of suicide. As she becomes a recognized pioneer of a new movement, she also proposes marriage to her girlfriend Fel.
As Des pursues her vision, she discovers a vibrant community of other attempt survivors who we meet through her unique lens.
Within this unique and personal approach, THE S WORD takes an intimate look at the lives of these survivors and their loved ones and records their candid and profoundly emotional stories of survival…and gives us all a guide to a future with fewer suicides.
The film’s narrative flows organically from one to the next, starting with personal moments and building emotional momentum before widening out to show how their journeys are driving the national movement to take the “S” word from unthinkable to preventable.