Break Free From Depression
The documentary (running time 36 minutes) focuses solely on the stories and lives of diverse adolescents as they currently struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. We learn of their symptoms, the course of their illness, and the methods they use for coping through their own words, rather than through expert narrative. We chose this story telling technique so that youth are able to learn about symptoms and recognize their impact through their peers’ own words. Finally, the documentary also addresses hope. The adolescents in the film do not only share their distress, but also ways they found help and relief, and the skills they have learned to mange their depression.
One such story is that of Igor, an 18-year-old Haitian American young man. During a period of over one year, the documentary follows Igor, and we hear of his long struggle with depression, about his history of loss and adversity, his suicide attempt and how he has learned to cope. We also meet Caroline, a 19-year-old young woman with a history of depression, anxiety, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. While Caroline's external struggles are significantly different from Igor's, their internal battles with depression are strikingly similar. We also meet many other adolescents, their friends, and family members, who like Igor and Caroline, come from varied backgrounds and circumstances, but are tied by a similar experience of growing up struggling with depression.
The manual that accompanies the documentary is designed for use by school personnel. The documentary may be used as a teaching tool to raise students' awareness of depression. The manual provides teaching lessons, suggestions for guiding discussion about the film, and resource information.