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Filmmaker Jason Reid takes us on a journey of overwhelming loss in his documentary, Tell My Story — a film that should probably be required viewing for every parent or caretaker. 

Reid was enjoying a seemingly perfect life as a successful father, husband and businessman when everything he knew and loved was turned on its head. In March of 2018, his beloved 14-year-old son Ryan committed suicide in the attic of their family home while Reid and his wife were away on vacation.

This is gut-wrenching viewing, as the documentary begins depicting scenes of a happy childhood before unfolding into tragedy. You’ll hold your breath taking in the intimate family memories splashed across the screen. Painfully evocative, this style of filmmaking serves to drive the point that everything is not always as it seems. Darkness can lay behind even the lightest of eyes, dangerous and secretive. Told mainly from the viewpoint of a grieving father, the film also gives viewers a glimpse of what it means to be the sibling of a suicide victim and how this unwelcome identity is shouldered.

Most importantly, the documentary forces us to open our eyes to the growing devastation that is teen suicide. The film interviews families, doctors, counselors, experts and community leaders to break down the stigma of mental health and implore us to do better — to be better listeners, to be better at emoting and to be more present in our children’s lives.

As a mother of two boys, this film rocked me. I made it an impressive 10 minutes before shedding tears, though my seatmates broke down sooner. Everyone knows a kid. Everyone needs to see this.

While arguably difficult to watch, Tell My Story resonates deeply, and it’s well worth the under two-hour run time, providing real insight into how we can help and support not only the ones we love, but ourselves as well.

Unsurprisingly, the world premiere of Tell My Story was met with applause during two showings at the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival this past weekend.

Learn more about the film and suicide prevention at chooselife.org/film.

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