Storytelling and Suicide Prevention: An Interview with “THE S WORD” Movie Producer Lisa Klein | Episode 3



This podcast originally aired on August 7th, 2017 and can be found here:

Effective storytelling is critical to the suicide prevention and suicide grief support efforts. Intimate, vulnerable, inspiring stories let us know we are not alone. Stories of recovery allow us to see a road map before us that leads us out of our despair.

In this podcast we talk with filmmaker Lisa Klein about why storytelling is so critical in effective suicide prevention. She shares with us her journey in making the new, ground-breaking film “The S Word.”


About “THE S WORD” Movie

Speaking the word itself is not the problem.

The silence that so often follows is.

THE S WORD, a feature-length documentary, tackles one of the most unfathomable issues of our time by telling the stories of suicide attempt survivors, along with the families and loved ones of those who have died by suicide - who are left behind to suffer the anguish, guilt, and confusion of death by suicide. The voices of those living through suicide loss and attempts will be amplified above simple discussion and politics of the issues. This film is bracing, controversial, and surprising in its revelations, its humor, its connections, and its multiple points of view.


  • Raise awareness about suicide prevention and resources, including alternatives that reach outside the box.

  • Expand the conversation about suicide to include everybody, because we have all been touched by it in some way.

  • Talk openly about suicide without judgement, shame or discrimination.

  • To get people to think about suicide in a completely different way – highlighting the complexity, pain and even humor of our survivors.

  • Change the world. (Okay we know one film can’t change the world but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.)

About Lisa Klein

Lisa Klein

Lisa Klein is an award-winning director and writer dedicated to crafting groundbreaking documentary features. Her current project, THE S WORD, is a documentary that tackles one of the most cloistered issues of our time through the emotional stories of suicide attempt and loss survivors. She tours the country speaking and using her films to raise awareness of mental health issues.

In 2012, Lisa co-directed the award-winning film OF TWO MINDS, a journey into the lives of remarkable people living, struggling and triumphing with bipolar condition. OF TWO MINDS played across the U.S. and Canada at dozens of film festivals, theatrical showings, universities and special presentations. In 2013, OF TWO MINDS received both the EIC Prism Award and the SAMHSA Voice Award, the two highest honors for mental health film making in the US. OF TWO MINDS was acquired by Cinedigm for distribution and has been a well-reviewed film on Netflix, as well as iTunes and Amazon digital. Lisa has shared the film to raise awareness about bipolar disorder and mental health issues, in venues that include the Mayo Clinic, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders conference, and the national conventions for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness).

She is co-founder of MadPix Films, a production company dedicated to producing socially active and powerful documentary films in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her husband (and MadPix partner) Doug Blush and their daughter. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California.

Director's Statement

“My name is Lisa Klein and I’m the director of THE S WORD. As a survivor of both my father’s and brother’s suicides, I have struggled with the ‘whys’ for years, along with the guilt, shame, and confusion that lingers in suicide’s wake.

There is no more highly charged personal issue for me, and for that reason I am driven to document it and open a much needed conversation. As a society, we’re always in crisis mode. How do we get ahead of this?   Yes, we need to talk to people when they are on the edge, but what are the steps before people reach that edge?  And after.  We talk them out of it - and then what…?

We want to open up the discussion to all of those things.  The S Word may have taken us four years to finish, but we’re really just getting started.  Thanks to the help of friends in the lived experience and suicide prevention communities, we’ve made this toolkit in the hopes of helping you feel a little more empowered to ask for help, and to provide help as well.

Suicide is a big deal.  It is scary and not the easiest conversation to have.  But not having that conversation has made suicide one of the leading causes of death in this country.  It is time to end the silence and boldly talk about suicide.  We can, and we must help each other not just survive, but strive toward a life worth living.

Suicide alone is not the problem, it is the deafening silence that surrounds it.”
— Lisa Klein



Safe messaging guidelines:  

Framework for messaging on suicide:

Resources for children after a suicide:

·       American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Guidebook

·       Dougy Center Resources

·       Judi’s House

Other Storytelling Efforts:

·       Live Through This

·       Book by Craig Miller: This is How it Feels

Communities for People with Lived Experience

·       United Suicide Survivors International

·       American Association of Suicidology

o   Attempt Survivors/Lived Experience

o   Loss Survivors

Contributing Factors to Suicide

·       Mental health conditions

·       Trauma

·       Other social determinants

·       Joiner’s model of suicide risk

Crisis Services

·       National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

·       Crisis Text Line

Graphic to Share

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