This Suicide Prevention Ad Is Weird But Powerful

When we talk about suicide, we don't expect that we'll be confronted with a young, blonde-haired boy speaking with the voice of a full-grown black man. But that's exactly what happens in this video about suicide prevention — some incredibly difficult subject matter is given a challenging twist. And it works. The unexpected voice jolts you, demands you pay attention by virtue of its very presence, and ensures that you're suitably uncomfortable for the duration of the video.

Beginning in the innocent setting of the child's home, household items take on a surreal, slightly sinister persona, as the man-voiced boy talks directly to the camera about the difficulties faced by an incalculable number of average people. But it's not just average people the boy is addressing. He references, Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Virginia Woolf: cultural icons who have taken their own lives. In doing so, this impressively talented kid gives us all the real talk we need to hear about suicide and suicidal thoughts: our judgment of it is telling of not only a complete lack of understanding about what conditions create a mental environmental where suicide feels like a viable option, but also our privilege in getting to live outside of those influences. In other words, we get told, in a way that doesn't normally happen in suicide discussions.

As the video takes us around Atlanta (not sure if that's even addressed in the video, but our Atlanta-bred editor recognized it), the boy/man talks about the often insurmountable hurdle of simply living, as well as the sometimes daunting realities of everyday life: dealing with people in power talking down to you, putting together dollars just to try and make rent, being "different" and not punching assholes in the face. It calls out the intolerant and the mean, asking them to just "be cool". And it expresses a profound empathy with those who have considered taking their own lives. It might be some serious subject matter for a Monday morning, but it's well worth the watch.

Image: YouTube