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Arlington, VA - In 1970, the theme song to the movie M*A*S*H* was titled "Suicide Is Painless." But the song lied. Every year, more than 30,000 Americans take their own lives. Suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the third among youth, ages 15 to 24. Most suffer from treatable mental illnesses.
Suicide also is the source of profound pain for survivors: family members, friends, and people who must confront it in professional or volunteer roles.
On Sunday, March 18, 2001, "Suicide," a documentary by Eames Yates, producer of "Dead Blue" (about depression) and "Panic" (about panic disorder), will premiere on the Home Box Office (HBO) cable channel at 10:00 p.m. ET. It also will be shown on March 21 at midnight.
Yates, who lost his own brother to suicide, takes a personal look at how it affects those who are left behind. "Because of my anger and grief," he has said, " I decided to make a film that would take an unflinching and deliberate look at the ugliness I experienced. This film is a personal exploration into the raw pain and anguish that suicide leaves behind."
Yates also wanted the documentary to be accompanied by a broader range of information about suicide, suicide prevention, and mental illness. In partnership with HBO, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) therefore has developed a Web site and outreach materials that will be launched as the documentary premieres.
For people who may be in acute emotional crises, both the HBO documentary presentation and the Web site will include the telephone number of the National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). Local emergency services also can be reached by dialing 911.
"NAMI is pleased to partner with HBO to help direct people to treatment information that can save lives," said NAMI board president Jacqueline Shannon. "Because the documentary is so powerful and graphic, we believe it is important to supplement its personal perspective with specific information about suicide prevention and treatment of mental illnesses."
"For anyone who feels suicidal, there is hope," Shannon said. "Help is available. Mental illnesses, especially severe depression, which are the source of most suicides, can be treated successfully. There also is no shame in asking for help. Mental illnesses are biologically-based brain disorders."
NAMI And HBO's Educational Program Has The Following Goals:
"Two years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a national call to action to prevent suicide," Shannon noted. "We hope the documentary and the broader educational program will help to emphasize the seriousness of that challenge."
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