Maciej Pradziad ’22
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month, I’ll be reviewing Kevin Hines and Greg Dicharry’s masterful documentary, Suicide the Ripple Effect. As some readers of the A&E section of the Trinity Tripod may recognize, this review is already vastly different from the other critiques I’ve written for this publication in that it is unusually informal. In light of this documentary’s straightforward and intensely intimate nature, I have decided to reflect its essence and plainly tell you that this film is an extremely vital watch for anyone suffering from any kind of mental illness. “Hope” may just look like a four-letter word to those who have lost it, but Hines and Dicharry created a piece of art that brings the sense of urgency and importance it once had and gives you proof that hope truly does exist.
Suicide the Ripple Effect tells the story of Kevin Hines’ second chance at life after he attempted to take his own life at the age of 19 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Although his suicide attempt had an immediate negative effect on his close family and friends, Hines pushed forward to internationally tell his story of redemption, strength, and hope to show the possibility of creating something positive out of the seemingly bleak. His story proves that human beings who suffer from mental illnesses are not defined by them and that the proper treatment and care truly can make life worth living.
A noticeable aspect of the film that would, in theory, garner negative criticism is the amateurish cinematography by Steven Higgins and Adan Pulido. Throughout the documentary, there are moments where Higgins and Pulido were unprepared for the lighting of various locations and would change the ISO (what controls a camera’s sensitivity to light) midway through the shot and make the image either overexposed or underexposed. In most circumstances, this would make for an extremely distracting viewing experience; however, I found this style to be particularly effective in making the viewer feel like they’re watching a home movie made by a close friend. Having those “flaws” contrasted by the stunning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, the crashing of ocean waves in San Francisco Bay, and the pink clouds during sunset makes for an experience that is gracefully turbulent. The intimacy one feels watching a film that knowingly has flaws, but continues to be just as beautiful in its presentation, is an excellent metaphor for continually moving forward in your life, no matter how immense the difficulties you may be facing are.
Suicide the Ripple Effect is a profoundly honest and touching documentary that sheds a destigmatized light on the struggles of mental illness to those blissfully unaware while giving a sense of genuine hope to those who are painfully aware.
With the film review’s conclusion, I want to address the readers who understand what it means to suffer mentally and may struggle with suicidal ideation or have contemplated taking their own life before. I want you to know that your life has meaning. You may not see it, but there are people around you who value you as a human being and accept you for who you are. You may feel like you want to die, but all you want is the pain to stop. Those are two drastically different things. I want you to know that it is possible to lessen the pain and feel like your life is truly your own. You are strong enough, and I believe in you.