According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention there were an estimated 1.4 Million suicide attempts in the United States in 2017. Suicide is also on the rise in the United States, which has significantly increased national media attention. The problem with this coverage is that it's often sensationalized, and as a result it's triggering more attempts. We were tasked with creating a new story of hope that celebrated life to promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline during Suicide Prevention Month.
Our goal was to drive awareness to the Lifeline and create a positive dialogue around mental health. One of the most powerful and effective methods of preventing further attempts, and motivating people to get help with their own mental illness is through stories of hope and recovery. We knew we had to tell the powerful story of Kansas City photographer Travis Young in an empathetic and delicate film to accomplish this. So, we set out to change the conversation about mental health and prove suicide is preventable with 'Waste of Film'.
"Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and other mood disorders." - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
For Suicide Prevention Month, it was time to turn the national conversation away from death and toward a story of hope. Our strategy focused on life. Finding a suicide survivor to share their story. One of the most effective methods of preventing suicide attempts and motivating people to seek help for their own mental illness. As we told our story we made sure to follow all best practices outlined by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website in order to provide a powerful story that was also sensitive to the triggering nature of such a subject.
"Waste of Film" is an incredibly honest, inspiring and personal account of a live lived and almost lost. After completion of the film we needed to stay true to Travis Young, the survivor featured in the piece, so Young was the first to release it to the world. To launch National Suicide Prevention Month, Young shared the piece on Facebook, Vimeo and Instagram. The piece was then shared by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on their Facebook and Twitter channels. "Waste of Film" immediately garnered international attention.
"Waste of Film" was shared and re-shared with over 20,000 organic engagements, over 10,000 organic views, and a million plus earned media impressions all with a hard-cost budget of under $1,000. It brought global attention to Young’s story - inspiring hope and an increase in positive conversation around mental health awareness.
The film was featured as an AdAge Editor's pick of the day, as well as one of their Top 5 Creative Ideas of the Week. It would also be featured in Muse by Clio, The Stable and made it's way to popular photography sites like F-Stoppers.
The documentary transcended the advertising world and was accepted and screened at multiple international film festivals including being awarded the IndieFEST Award of Excellence.
And the film continues to build awareness for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as part of the 'Stories of Hope and Recovery' section on the National Suicide Prevention Website.
Travis Young is living a loving and happy life as a successful photographer in Kansas City and continues to advocate for mental health awareness and that suicide is preventable.