This month is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Suicide Prevention Week is September 10th-15th. The S Word is a groundbreaking new documentary that highlights the voices of lived experience in order to change the way we understand and respond to suicide in America.

Said Lisa Klein, the film’s director: “As a survivor of both my father’s and brother’s suicides, I have struggled with the ‘whys’ for years, along with the guilt, shame, and confusion that lingers in suicide’s wake. There is no more highly charged personal issue for me, and for that reason I am driven to document it and open a much-needed conversation. It is time for us to boldly talk about suicide because no family should have to experience that which radiates outward for generations to come.”

The S Word centers the stories of suicide attempt survivors and suicide loss survivors as experts by experience. The documentary features suicide attempt survivor Dese’Rae Stage, who launched Live Through This, a national project dedicated to sharing the stories and portraits of suicide attempt survivors. The story of Kelechi Ubozoh, Bay Area poet, attempt survivor, and mental health advocate, is also featured in the film. Below is an interview with Ubozoh on what it was like to be in the film.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in this documentary?
A: Mental health stigma is real, especially in the black community. I decided to be part of the documentary, so I could try to shift the paradigm in black culture where asking for mental health help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Where talking about suicide isn’t met with silence or judgment, just a real conversation.

Q: What was it like to be one of the people featured in the film?
A: Honestly, it was incredible and I’m proud. It is a huge risk to be so vulnerable and share pieces of your life that people might not understand. My mom also joins me, and she is an amazing lady. I’m very lucky that the director, Lisa Klein, was very responsible in how she shared my story-it is truly me in this film…which can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable, they definitely catch me in my every-day life which includes karaoke singing!

Q: What do you hope The S Word will accomplish regarding the conversation about suicide?
A: The S Word just won a SAMHSA Voice Award for documentary, and I had the opportunity to join the director and producer on stage which was truly incredible. After I disclosed to the audience that I was a suicide attempt survivor, I was approached by so many people from all walks of life who told me “me too.” That was tremendous, and that’s why I’m part of the film. If we can create a world where the stigma of suicide is decreased so people speak out when they are in pain, maybe we can prevent anyone else from dying. And that’s how we can all show up.

What you can do:

For help during times of crisis, contact Crisis Support Services of Alameda County.