PBS Utah and Encircle Address Teen Suicide With Latest Book Club in a Box
PBS Utah’s newest Book Club in a Box includes the documentary Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide and the book Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich. This box will be available to ship in February.
In 2018, PBS Utah launched its Book Club in a Box program. This unique program pairs a book with a PBS Utah documentary that complements the topics and storylines in the book.
“This project came about because I was looking for a way to engage people in conversations that really matter,” says Community Engagement Manager, Laura Durham. PBS Utah hosts many screenings in Utah that bring in speakers to lead discussions, but not everyone gets an opportunity to speak in those large settings. In a book club, individuals are encouraged to speak and share their perspective – and many opinions are formed or changed in those smaller, more familiar settings.
PBS Utah works with community partners to curate these boxes. Topics include civil rights, feminism, autism, and mental health. The topic of mental health led PBS Utah to approach Encircle about working together on a Book Club box.
Encircle stands as a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ youth and families. The Utah organization is expanding its reach as more communities use its services.
In 2016, the station produced a documentary about preventing teen suicide. “It’s a critical problem here in Utah,” says Durham. “The topics and stories examined in this documentary are worth revisiting again.” The documentary, Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide tells the stories of three teens and their families. One of those teens is a transgender girl who survived her suicide attempt and has moved forward with the support of her mother and friends. Together, PBS Utah and Encircle chose to pair the documentary with the novel Dear Evan Hansen.
“When PBS Utah approached us about this idea, we knew Hope Lives was the perfect documentary to address the sensitive yet common nature of mental health and suicide,” said Stephenie Larsen, founder and executive director at Encircle. “The discussions that will come out of this book and film will be powerful, and we encourage vulnerability and empathy to get the most out of the stories and the discussion guide.”
Dr. Jared Klundt wrote the discussion guide for this box to empower the book club host to lead a deep and meaningful discussion that incorporates the stories from both Dear Evan Hansen and Hope Lives.
“Book clubs are opportunities for humans to connect in meaningful ways, and our hope is that this particular book and film can create genuine conversations about these painfully common concerns,” says Klundt. “Talking with people you trust is one of the most powerful preventive factors for mental illness and suicide.”
The Book Club in a Box program is available at no cost to all book clubs in Utah. Other box options address a variety of different issues that are important to individuals and communities in Utah. The packaged toolkit has everything a host needs to plan a successful book club and includes a copy of the book and film, a discussion guide, a recipe, and more.
Visit pbsutah.org/bookclub for more information about each of the five film/book pairings and to register.