A screening of The S Word, a documentary, was meant to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 19, but the film could not be shown due to technical issues. However, a panel discussion meant to happen after the screening was still held.
The S Word, a documentary directed by Lisa Klein, features Dese’Rae Stage as its central subject, and follows Stage as she seeks out fellow suicide survivors in an attempt to put faces and stories to the problem of suicide in America, in the process encountering examples from the full spectrum of American life. Despite the best efforts of the hosting organizations, going so far as to borrow a laptop from a random person in attendance, the film could not be screened. The hosts did however promise that, because they still held the technical rights to the film, they would send an email to all those in attendance with a link allowing them to watch the documentary for themselves.
Despite the cancellation of the screening, what was intended to be the post-screening panel went ahead anyway. The panel included three individuals with knowledge and experience in matters of mental health and suicide prevention. Valerie Gerbhardt, MSW, CADC, The Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator for the UIS Counseling Center, Ben Yamnitz, MSW, LCSW, the director of Community Recovery Services for Memorial Behavioral Health, and Ann McCaughan, Ph.D., LCPC, the Chair for the Department of Human Development at UIS. The panelists answered questions posed to them both by the moderator and the audience covering a whole range of suicide and mental health related issues, such as the resources available to students on campus and elsewhere, a mnemonic to help remember and recognize the warning signs, how to bring up the issue to a person you may be concerned about, what you can do to help someone a long distance away, and advice for those considering a career in counseling among other mental health related topics.
The email containing the film was sent out on Thursday, via email, and students wishing to discuss the film were recommended to visit the Office of Gender & Sexuality Student Services, the Women’s Center, Counseling Center, the Diversity Center, or the Office of International Student Services.