Sometimes as a movie critic there are films you watch which you wish never had to be made. Documentaries are important in many ways in that they are educational, enlightening and shine a light on needed subjects. Teenage suicide is something we sorta keep looked in the back of minds. It is really too awful to deal with, but it is not just going to go away. Actually, it is the opposite in that it seems to be only increasing as bullying becomes more commonplace.
At the beginning of the film, directed and written by Ash Patino, on a screen which mimics a cell phone we are informed that suicide is now the third leading cause of death in the United States of ages 10-12. That is frightening! It is way past the time when we adults think that ignoring it is going to make it stop. We can no longer just talk to our kids but really listen and monitor their behaviour as we are also informed that 75% of kids who commit suicide indicate to someone in their lives of their intentions.
Here we get to know of the death by suicide by 12-year-old Mallory. A young girl who was good in school, did well in gymnastics, was from a well off family, and who had parents who loved her. Still she was so desperate to escape that she hung herself.
Now over a year after her death her parents, Dianne and Seth Grossman, continue their fight to make sure no other family has to go through the pain they have and continue to be in. They have established Mallory’s Army, a non-profit charity which raises funds for youth suicide education. Dianne goes around to different schools in their home state of New Jersey talking to young people about suicide.
The entire story of Mallory’s too short life is laid out for us. Nothing really sticks out. She led a good life. Loving parents who made good livings, had a few friends, loved gymnastics and the outdoors, made bracelets to sell for a charity, and dreamed of a future. A future she would never get. All this because some girls at school targeted her.
Bullying. It is not just being beaten up for your lunch money on the way to school anymore. It is 24/7 all encompassing involving the usual plus all forms of social media. Young people today are on their laptops or phones almost all the time. This is where bullies operate now. Their targets cannot really get away from them. Plus it is more public. Everyone else is on social media as well so they see everything.
Mallory fell victim to a group of girls like that at her new middle school. It got so bad she became depressed. She even quit gymnastics because of it. The bullying drove her to take her own life. Tragic. What is even more tragic is that Mallory’s story is just one of many.
The film is just another way the Grossmans are trying to get the message out about suicide among young people. It takes strong people to be able to turn their pain into something good for others.