After a failed suicide attempt, Sarah joins a group of suicide survivors in a hospital psychiatric unit. Their secret group’s goal is to help each other successfully complete suicide. But an inspiring therapist and a budding romance make Sarah question, does she want to live or die?
This film is about acceptance, community, and finding people who are weird like you’re weird. For some of the members of our team, we found that community in film school or when we started working in the film industry. Others found that community in theater, music, and other creative endeavors.
L Jean Schwartz started writing this film in 2009, at the end of her studies at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. The idea came about when a friend was telling the story of a man in his hometown who had attempted suicide via shotgun and survived. She was shocked, but her friend said, “What? Every town has one.” Jean reflected on how suicide has touched her own small town, and thought, “If every town does have these stories, why is suicide still such a taboo topic?” As she mulled over the idea, she realized: 1) If you’re trying to end your own life and even that goes wrong, that would be a really tough experience (especially since other people would probably think you should be grateful to be alive). 2) The people who would understand that best would be other people who had also attempted suicide unsuccessfully. 3) What if there was a group of suicide survivors who were all trying to help each other succeed in their attempts? And thus, The Average Girl’s Guide to Suicide was born.
She was a bit nervous to tell people that she was writing a comedy about suicide, because she thought people might find it offensive. But what’s kept her going on this project is how much the story resonates with so many people. It started with a few friends who read the script and said, “I love it! It totally reminds me of the first time I tried!” They’d never mentioned their attempts before, but suddenly they felt comfortable talking about it. The more people she told about the film, the more people that had stories to tell of their own attempts, or family members or friends. And it wasn’t something they had to whisper or tell in secret, they could talk about it openly. We hope that this film can help start discussions about depression, self-harm, suicide, allowing people who share their own stories and listen to others’ stories. We hope this film can help end the stigma of mental health troubles and seeking help.
The film is about more than suicide: it’s the story of a young woman who feels trapped by other people’s expectations, and her journey to create a life she wants to live. We hope that this film will inspire young women, and people of all ages, to escape from societal expectations and create lives they want to live. Women are still very underrepresented in filmmaking: in 2014 only 7% of the top 250 had female directors, 11% had female writers, 18% had female editors and 5% had female cinematographers (according to the 2014 Celluloid Ceiling Report: http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/files/2014_Celluloid_Ceiling_Report.pdf). We believe that the change starts with us, by showing people that women can make successful films with interesting, empowered female characters.
We invite you to join us on this journey, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and be a part of this movement.
With so much love,