S O S: Survivors Of Suicide and The Sensation Of Sight
One of the most gratifying aspects of producing The Sensation of Sight has been the positive feedback we’ve been receiving from suicide prevention organizations and from many individuals who have suffered the loss of a loved one to suicide (a group generally referred to as Survivors of Suicide).
The film portrays the difficult struggle of a man to come to terms with the suicide of one of his students—a death for which he counts himself responsible—and his journey to a place of healing and recovery. An increasing number of people are telling us that the film is helping them in their own efforts to come to terms with the loss they’ve suffered, regardless of whether the loss was recent or many years previous.
It is generally understood in the field that experiencing the loss of a loved one to suicide is one of the most difficult forms of mourning. Some experts say that it is ten times more difficult to come to terms with this loss than any other given the stigma attached to suicide and the sense of guilt and/or anger and other emotions that are experienced by survivors.
We’ve been told that our film deals with the survivor issues directly and honestly, allowing viewers to relate emotionally to the fiction story being told while at the same time allowing them to intellectually objectify the familiar struggle being presented and to help them get distance and perspective on their own situation.
Recently The Sensation of Sight was named one of the top 10 films on loss and grief by the Official Best of Fest Awards, along with such films as The Hurt Locker, Departures, and The Dead Girl. It is the only film in the category of loss and grief, however, that deals specifically with suicide survivors.
In January 2010 the New Hampshire chapter of The Samaritans—a national organization dedicated to helping suicide survivors—sponsored a special screening of the film in Keene, NH to great success.
In early 2010 the Suicide Prevention Council (SPC) of New Hampshire under the auspices of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) received a grant from the New Hampshire Humanities Council to hold public screenings of the film followed by facilitated discussions in a program titled “A Discourse on Suicide through Film.” The SPC screened dozens of films made over the past several decades and selected two for this initiative: The Sensation of Sight and Ordinary People, winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 1980. (See the sidebar to the right for information about these screenings).
In April 2010, sponsored by The Samaritans, The Sensation of Sight was shown at the Putnam Theatre on the Keene State College campus, Keene, NH, as part of the national Dreams Untitled Project for suicide awareness/prevention. A discussion followed facilitated by the Samaritans. (See information on the sidebar.)
Here is a sampling of reactions from these screenings as well as comments by other survivors who have seen the film:
“As a survivor myself, who has been working with suicide survivors for years, I recommend this cathartic epic. The symbolism throughout the film invites the mind to heal–from carrying the baggage (wagon and books) to releasing all victims to move on. Great stuff! Even better the second time around.”
“The strange sense of floating around in life after one experiences losing a loved one to suicide was so eloquently expressed; I felt exactly like that in my own life. But the important thing was that there was light at the end. And that is important for me to understand at this stage in my grief.”
“I think (the film) resonates because when tragedy of any sort happens you want to figure out the why. Why does it lay you flat? Why did it happen? Was it my fault? What’s wrong with me? Somehow The Sensation of Sight liberated me to fly and I don’t really know why. Deep exuberant truth. Brilliant ending. I love this film.”
“Certainly a survivor’s perspective. Poignant. We are intermingled and it brings all of us full circle. And the question is “why”—and that is the question that keeps reverberating…”
“I thought I had fully grieved the tragic loss of my loved one, but there were still hurts hiding inside, and each time I saw the film more healing took place. I’m still drawn to watch The Sensation of Sight from time to time to stay in touch with and renew my connection to humanity.”
“Thank you for the positive ending. It reminds me that there is hope not only in humanity but within myself.”
“I thought the film was excellent in showing how we are important to others and how one life affects man, many others. One may thiink she/he doesn’t matter in the world but we are all important. We all have a reason for being.”
“It is a very compelling film. Overall, it is very accurate regarding the emotions, feelings, and thoughts people have after losing someone to suicide. I could identify with the film in so many ways. Also, the cinematography is beautiful.”
“My father and stepmother felt the death of my stepbrother very intensely. For years I’ve had a hard time forgiving him. Talking about it with other survivors does help. It’s hard to speak to those in your life because you don’t want to bring it back up–having a screening like this is a wonderfully gentle way to continue the discussion, or bring it up in the first place. The film itself is beautiful and I think I need time to really know how it will affect me, but I know anything that discusses suicide and takes it into the light is positive.”
“It has taken a lifetime to “almost” understand the “why’s,” and I gave up on the “what if’s.” The film did an excellent job of putting pictures to the words a lot of us have tried to express.”
“‘The Sensation of Sight really struck a chord in me because a friend committed suicide and we never knew why. It changes a person.”
“Buy this film and share it with those who are battling those “whys” and “what ifs” that lead to the blackest of canyons. If we can just allow the least glimmer of light to get in, this will lead to The Sensation of Sight.”
We will be posting further screenings around the U.S. (or abroad) on this page as they are scheduled and other news and links as they relate to the film and SOS issues.
Check the right sidebar for a variety of other resources–just move your cursor over them and click to go there.
Anyone interested in pursuing the possibility of an SOS screening of the film should contact Buzz McLaughlin, executive producer, at Buzz@eitherorfilms.com.
DVDs of the film can be purchased directly from this website at a special price and with a special bonus unavailable elsewhere.
By ordering the film from our website you directly benefit us, the filmmakers, who are working towards recouping the cost of making the film.
If you’ve seen the film and would like to comment on it, please join the conversation~thanks!