Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide | Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich
The diverse and intimate stories that we see from both Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide and Dear Evan Hansen address the sensitive yet pressing issue of teen suicide. Some of the key factors in assessing suicidal ideation in teens include feeling isolated, depressed, and alone. The documentary highlights the impact that students can have on each other when lifting each other up and focusing on prevention. Dear Evan Hansen hones in on one individual’s experience to highlight the impact of what it is like to feel ostracized in a high school environment. We also come to recognize the impact of suicide on others, as well as its causes and prevention. Both the documentary and the book demonstrate the importance of what supportive classmates and friends can do, as well as how a supportive family can assist in preventing teen suicide and increasing the well-being of teens throughout Utah. The question becomes: What more can we be doing inside and outside of high schools to address teen suicide?
On the Spectrum | The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The stories we get from On the Spectrum and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time deal with young people with autism. While this can be a devastating disability for some, a key success factor for those with this diagnosis is often the people who care for them and teach them. In both the documentary and the book, these individuals have people who care for their basic needs. However, in On the Spectrum, the children have parents who understand their disabilities and advocate tirelessly for their well-being. In the novel, Christopher’s mother has deserted the family and while his father does the best he can, Christopher’s best hope is his teacher Siobhan who helps him understand emotions, both his own and others. While there is still no “cure” for autism, there are methods for helping those living with the disability to live full and creative lives. The difference between the people we meet in the documentary and the people in the book highlight some of these key factors. Is excellent care giving socio-economically related or is it a deep commitment to and love of the person with autism?
Unspoken: America's Native American Boarding Schools | Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting - Illustrated by Irving Toddy
Cheyenne Again and Unspoken both tell the stories of the off-reservation Federal Indian boarding school designed by General Richard H. Pratt based on his mantra to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” In an effort to assimilate the children in these boarding schools, strict and often brutal punishment was used to prohibit the children from speaking their language and practicing their spirituality and culture. Some children never made it home. Both *the book and the documentary consider the questions: What was the prevailing attitude towards Native Americans? How did Federal Indian policies promote those attitudes? And, How did these assimilation practices impact today’s Native American population?
*Cheyenne Again is a children's book that plainly and elegantly portrays the experience through a child's eyes. It is a nice complement to the heaviness of the documentary. We strongly suggest the individuals in your group watch the documentary prior to your discussion.
Martha Hughes Cannon | The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
In Sue Monk Kidd’s book The Invention of Wings, and PBS Utah’s documentary, Martha Hughes Cannon, we meet remarkable women who pushed against established spheres and lived in worlds of contrast. Discover how these women navigated complex social, political, and religious structures and how they evoked change in spite of disappointment, loss, betrayal, and ostracism. Consider how these women's stories, their themes, and the abolitionist and women's rights movements impact us today. How do they influence our desire and ability to advocate for others and ourselves? And how do we navigate complex social, political, and religious structures with personal integrity?
This box is a collaborative project between PBS Utah and Better Days 2020.