Sunday, March 20, 2016

Veterans Families Foucus of "Those We Leave Behind" After Suicide

Turner filmmaker focuses on veteran suicide
Portland Press Herald
Ray Routhier Staff Writer
Marc 20, 2016
Because Roberts doesn’t want his film to be seen as exploiting their memories in anyway, he doesn’t want to name them. He has chosen not to ask the families for details about the suicides, saying, “The last thing I want to do is be a source of pain for the family.” But he described the men in general terms.
Iraq veteran Seth Roberts is a filmmaker working on a film dealing with PTSD, suicide, and other returning veteran issues. John Ewing/Staff Photographer
The first two phone calls that Seth Roberts received telling him two former Army comrades had taken their own lives left him stunned and upset.

Then came the third and fourth calls, within two months of each other. Those pushed Roberts to his emotional limits.

“It put me in a really bad place… contemplating taking my own life,” the 44-year-old from Turner said. “I was like ‘Where is this coming from? Who’s next?'”

Roberts, a photographer and filmmaker, decided to do something constructive in his friends’ memories. He has co-written and hopes to direct a Maine-based indie film called “Those We Leave Behind.” It’s a drama focusing on the story of an Army veteran who takes his own life, and the emotional havoc it wreaks on his wife and daughter.

The film has been written and cast with local actors. Now Roberts and his Maine filmmaking partners are trying to raise the $100,000 they say they need to make it. They hope to film in July all around Maine and eventually play the film at festivals and sell DVDs.

Roberts, whose two stints in the Army included a six-month deployment in Iraq, said he wants to make the film to bring attention to the national epidemic of veteran suicides. He feels the film could raise awareness of the struggles his friends faced and help other veterans and their families. read more here


**This is the part that too few reporters ever mention.

An estimated 18 to 22 veterans die by suicide daily, or about 8,000 in a year. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs started a national suicide prevention program in 2007 to try to deal with the problem. The actual number of suicides daily is likely higher than the estimates because those numbers are based on deaths involving people who were identified as veterans and whose cause of death was clearly suicide, said Mark Lawless, the department’s lead suicide prevention coordinator for New England, based in West Haven, Connecticut.

Some veterans who take their own lives might not have been getting services from VA facilities, and therefore they are harder to identify as veterans. Some might have died of medication overdoses or in a single-vehicle accident, causes not always ruled suicide.