Directing Change

Submission Categories

All submissions cannot exceed the time limit for the category entered and must adhere to the submission format outlined in the contest rules and must include all required logos and information found in the Submission Toolboxes below. Submissions are accepted in 2 categories:

Suicide Prevention

Every one of us has the power to spread the word about suicide prevention, take action and make an impact in someone’s life. Entering a film in this category provides you with an opportunity to share information about the warning signs for suicide and how to connect young people with help and resources. We are partnering with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s #BeThe1To movement and films should creatively incorporate at least one of the #BeThe1To movement’s messages.

To ensure you score the highest possible points in this category review these requirements and resources:

Content Scoring Measures:

NOTE: Be sure to review the disqualifying content information below to learn what to avoid in your film.

1.The film should communicate a message about suicide prevention that is hopeful and focused on what someone can do to prevent suicide such as reaching out to a friend and seeking support.  Think of it this way: After someone watches your film what do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel, act or think differently?

2.Films must visually include one or more of the these “#BeThe1to” hashtag messages:

  • #BeThe1ToKnowtheSigns: Have your film educate others about the warning signs for suicide.  Most people show one or more warning signs, so it is important to know the signs and take them seriously, especially if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. Click here to learn the warning signs.
  • #BeThe1ToAsk: Communicate that asking someone “Are you thinking about suicide?” will not put thoughts of suicide in his or her mind.  In fact, asking this direct question is important.
  • #BeThe1ToConnect: The film can encourage people to ask for help, reach out to a friend they are concerned about, or if a person talks about ending his or her life, to take him or her seriously and connect him or her to help.
  • #BeThe1ToKeepThemSafe: It is okay to break a friend’s trust and share your concerns with an adult if you think your friend might be thinking about harming him or herself.

Tips!
Although picking up someone’s books when they fall is a nice metaphor, it often takes more than “a simple act of kindness” to save a life.  
Remember that many people don’t know how they should respond to someone who is having thoughts of suicide. Use this opportunity to educate young people and others about what to do, such as talking directly about suicide, seeking help from a trusted adult or connecting them with help.

Be Original!  Since the suicide prevention category talks a lot about warning signs, using actual “signs” as a metaphor is creative and a great way to communicate the warning signs, but we receive a lot of submissions with this approach.  Think about communicating the message in a way that will really connect with other young people.

Safe Messaging Scoring Measures

All films have to consider safe messaging guidelines for suicide prevention. (Not following these guidelines can cause you to lose valuable points: 30 out of 100 possible points are related to safe messaging. Check out the official judging form to learn what judges will be scoring your film on).

Key Resources:

Provide a Suicide Prevention Resource
A key strategy to prevent suicide is to provide information about crisis and support resources.  You will be meeting this critieria by including the logo end slate that includes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line. Learn more about the Crisit Text Line here.

Avoid statistics and statements that portray suicide or a suicide attempt as something that happens all the time. It may seem compelling to get the audience’s attention by using statistics such as “a person dies by suicide every 18 minutes”. However, presenting the data in this format makes suicide seem common and might encourage a young person already thinking about ending their life to believe, mistakenly, that suicide is a common and acceptable solution to the problems they are facing- which is not true! Instead, consider utilizing statistics that focus on positive or help-seeking behavior such as “In 2016, there were approximately 10,500 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) from Oklahoma.”

Examples of statistics that should be avoided:

  • “A person dies by suicide every 18 minutes.”
  • “Every 40 seconds someone attempts suicide.”
  • “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 18-24.”

This fact sheet provides some examples of appropriate statistics to use in your film. When deciding on what (if any) statistics to use, consider if they focus on a problem (not good) or a solution such as what people can do to prevent suicide (good).

Do not oversimplify the causes of suicide or how to get better. Suicide should not be framed as an explanation or understandable response to an individual’s stressful situation (e.g. a result of not getting into college, parent’s divorce, break-up or bullying) or to an individual’s membership in a group encountering discrimination. Oversimplification of suicide in any of these ways can mislead people to believe that it is a normal response to fairly common life circumstances. It is okay to talk about life problems that may increase a person’s risk of suicide such as family issues (divorce, abuse) or social issues (bullying, break ups) and to talk about these life problems as a possible contributing factor to why a young person might be feeling hopeless, drinking more or isolating themselves (which are warning signs for suicide), but the film should not point to just one of these events as the cause of suicide. The truth is that not one of these events causes suicide, usually a person is dealing with multiple tough situations and is showing warning signs.

Use appropriate language when addressing actions related to suicide. The suicide prevention community is trying to clarify the ways in which people refer to actions related to suicide. The more clear and respectful we can be when speaking about actions related to suicide, the more we will be able to remove misconceptions that prevent people from getting support.

Use:

  • “died by suicide” or “took their own life”
  • “attempted suicide”

Don’t Use:

  • “committed suicide”- use of the word “commit” can imply crime/sin
  • “successful/completed” or “unsuccessful” attempt- there is no success, or lack of success, when dealing with suicide

Disqualifying Content:

Submissions that include this type of content, or deemed to contain inappropriate content, will be disqualified.

1. The film SHOULD NOT include portrayals of suicide deaths or attempts (such as a person jumping off a building or bridge, or holding a gun to their head). Portraying suicide attempts and showing items someone might use for a suicide attempt even in dramatization, can increase chances of an attempt by someone who might be thinking about suicide and exposed to the film.

Be creative and cautious:  If you are considering showing items someone might use for a suicide attempt in your film, we encourage you to think about the purpose and benefit of including this in your film. There are other ways to demonstrate that someone is thinking about suicide without showing a weapon or a bottle of pills. Can you convey the sentiment you are seeking without showing this? In general it is best to avoid showing images of ways people might attempt suicide, especially weapons.

ALL FILMS WITH DEPICTIONS OF WEAPONS WILL BE DISQUALIFIED! In addition, it is at the discretion of the Directing Change Team to disqualify films that are deemed to have a potentially harmful message or image.

Important distinction:  You can show a person thinking about suicide (e.g. looking at pills or standing at the side of a ledge), but you cannot show them actually taking a step off a ledge even if you don’t show the person actually falling. Similarly, you can show a bottle of pills, but don’t show them swallowing the pills. In general it is best to avoid showing images of ways people might attempt suicide, especially weapons.  Also consider that showing images of items/ways people might harm themselves might also be disturbing to those who have lost someone to suicide. Remember, we are focused on prevention and the most important part is educating others about how to help. If you have any questions about this, please contact us!

2. The film should be sensitive to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, with all individuals realistically and respectfully depicted.

Suicide Prevention Resources to Assist You with Content

For background information review these fact sheets and short educational films developed by the Directing Change Team.

For additional questions regarding the “Suicide Prevention” category, please contact us.

Suicide Warning Signs for Youth

Warning signs are indications that someone may be in danger of suicide, either immediately or in the near future. Most people show one or more warning signs, so it is important to know the signs and take them seriously especially if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. (www.youthsuicidewarningsigns.org)

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
    •  Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability

The following is a list of emergency warning signs that require immediate action!:

  • Threatening self-harm or suicide
  • Person is in act of self-harm or suicide
  • Person has a weapon or other lethal means
  • Seeking weapons or means to self-harm
  • Talking about death or suicide while acting agitated or anxious, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

These warning signs may not signal an emergency situation, but are signs that a person may be in need of help:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation, loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Significant personality change
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Putting his or her affairs in order (for example, giving away favorite possessions, or throwing away important belongings)
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (this could be a sign that a person has made a suicide plan)

Through the Lens of Culture

By submitting a film in the Through the Lens of Culture-Suicide Prevention category young film makers are encouraged to explore the topics of suicide prevention through the lens of a particular culture.

There are many different definitions for culture, but here is the one we are going to use for the purpose of providing direction to our film makers:  Culture is the characteristics and perspectives of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, ethnicity, nationality, religion, cuisine, social habits, sexual orientation, a shared experience, music, arts and more.  And when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention culture can influence how and if we talk about these topics, whether or not we seek help, what kind of help and from whom.

To ensure you score the highest possible points in this category review these resources:

Content Scoring Measures

The film must explore suicide prevention through the lens of a particular culture.  Your film should send a positive message about the importance of supporting others and how people can play a vital role in ensuring that all young people regardless of their culture, or group association, get the help they need. A film might do a wonderful job in presenting information about or from the perspective of a particular culture, but does it also make a connection to how this influences help-seeking and suicide prevention?

This can be done in many different ways and here are a few ideas:

      • Explore how communicating about warning signs and encouraging people to seek help might look different depending on our culture and the way we were brought up. Your film could dispel myths and misconceptions about suicide prevention that might be prevalent in a particular culture and show that seeking help is not shameful, mental illnesses are common and treatable, and recovery is possible.
      • Explore generational differences. The way we think about and talk about suicide can be influenced by generational differences between grandparents and parents, or parents and children.  To educate an older generation about the warning signs of suicide, acceptance, or about the importance of getting help, you might want to consider creating your film in their primary language and to think about specific views and terms about suicide that they have grown up with.
      • Demonstrate how cultural groups can provide support and strength when dealing with emotional crises. Traditions, healing practices and other support from our culture can be protective and positively impact our mental health.
      • Inspire Action. Be creative and create a message that will inspire positive action about suicide prevention. Think of it this way:  After someone watches this film what are they asked to do? Will the film inspire them to feel, act or think differently?  We would like the films to be action oriented and encourage change and support.  For instance, the film can educate others about the warning signs for suicide and encourage people to ask for help.

Films in this category must meet the following criteria:

  • The film must be no more than 60-seconds in length (the title slide is not included in the 60-second limit)
  • The film must include a Title Slide (this is not counted in the 60-second limit)
  • The film must include the logo end slate (choose one):
  • The film must include captioning (Films are encouraged to be submitted in languages other than English, but all films in this category are required to include captioning, even if the film is in English.)

WHY? 

    • If the film is in English, captioning is required to allow for wide dissemination of the films to all people including communities such as the Deaf, Hard of Hearing or English Language Learners.
    • These films will be used in a variety of settings, and evaluated by a panel of judges. To assist the judging process, knowing that it will be difficult to have a panel of judges for each language, films must have English captioning to assist in fair scoring of films.
    • We encourage films in all languages and are hopeful to receive submissions in sign language and appropriate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

What is the difference between captioning and subtitles?

    • Captioning (also called closed captioning), is commonly used as a service to aid deaf and hearing-impaired audiences. They usually appear as white text within a black box, appearing a second or two after being spoken.
    • Subtitling is most frequently used as a way of translating a medium into another language so that speakers of other languages can enjoy it.
    • You do not need to use closed captioning or subtitling software to include captioning in your film. What we are looking for is your film to include text in English that allows the viewer to fully comprehend your film, whether because of a linguistic barrier or hearing impairment.  The primary goal of captions and subtitles is expanding audiences and allowing everyone to enjoy your film!

For more information about closed captioning click here

Tip! For your film to score high, it is important to connect culture with suicide prevention and to explore how the culture you chose to focus on influences openly talking about these topics among friends and family members, seeking help and supporting others. For example, it is great to create a film in Spanish, or using sign language, but take it a step further and focus on cultural perspectives, cultural strengths, or cultural practices that might encourage people who are part of that culture to seek help or show how loved ones can support someone in distress.  If you are going to attempt to make a film from the perspective of arts or dance culture (or something similar), it is not enough to show people creating art or dancing in your film; take it a step further and demonstrate how being part of these cultures can influence young people’s thoughts about suicide, getting help, offering support and standing up for others.

See note below in “What Not To Do!” about how it is okay to talk about how life problems and cultural factors may impact a person’s ability to talk about their problems or seek help or that increase a person’s risk for suicide such as family issues (pressure to succeed, acculturation, gender identity) or social issues (bullying, break-ups). And to talk about these issues and life problems as a possible contributing factor to why a young person might be feeling hopeless, drinking more or isolating themselves (which are warning signs for suicide), but the film should not point to just one of these events as the cause of suicide.

Safe Messaging Scoring Measures

All films have to consider safe messaging guidelines for suicide prevention. (Not following these guidelines can cause you to lose valuable points: 30 out of 100 possible points are related to safe messaging. Check out the official judging form to learn what judges will be scoring your film on).

Key Resources:

Provide a Suicide Prevention Resource
A key strategy to prevent suicide is to provide information about crisis and support resources.  You will be meeting this critieria by including the logo end slate that includes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the website www.suicideispreventable.org. In addition, you may also include the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741) as an additional resource in your film. Learn more about the Crisit Text Line here.

As a Suicide Prevention Resource in Spanish, please use the Spanish version of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: La Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454

As a Suicide Prevention Resource for LGBTQ youth, you may include the Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386  A crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service available 24/7.

Avoid statistics and statements that portray suicide or a suicide attempt as something that happens all the time. It may seem compelling to get the audience’s attention by using statistics such as “a person dies by suicide every 18 minutes”. However, presenting the data in this format makes suicide seem common and might encourage a young person already thinking about ending their life to believe, mistakenly, that suicide is a common and acceptable solution to the problems they are facing- which is not true! Instead, consider utilizing statistics that focus on positive or help-seeking behavior such as “In 2016, there were approximately 10,500 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) from Oklahoma.”

Examples of statistics that should be avoided: 

  • “A person dies by suicide every 18 minutes.”
  • “Every 40 seconds someone attempts suicide.”
  • “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 18-24.”
  • “LGBTQ youth are more likely to attempt suicide”

When deciding on what (if any) statistics to use, consider if they focus on a problem (not good) or a solution such as what people can do to prevent suicide (good).

Do not oversimplify the causes of suicide or how to get better. Suicide should not be framed as an explanation or understandable response to an individual’s stressful situation (e.g. a result of not getting into college, parent’s divorce, break-up or bullying) or to an individual’s membership in a group encountering discrimination. Oversimplification of suicide in any of these ways can mislead people to believe that it is a normal response to fairly common life circumstances. It is okay to talk about life problems that may increase a person’s risk of suicide such as family issues (divorce, abuse) or social issues (bullying, break ups) and to talk about these life problems as a possible contributing factor to why a young person might be feeling hopeless, drinking more or isolating themselves (which are warning signs for suicide), but the film should not point to just one of these events as the cause of suicide. The truth is that not one of these events causes suicide, usually a person is dealing with multiple tough situations and is showing warning signs.

Use appropriate language when addressing actions related to suicide. The suicide prevention community is trying to clarify the ways in which people refer to actions related to suicide. The more clear and respectful we can be when speaking about actions related to suicide, the more we will be able to remove misconceptions that prevent people from getting support.

Use:

  • “died by suicide” or “took their own life”
  • “attempted suicide”

Don’t Use:

  • “committed suicide”- use of the word “commit” can imply crime/sin
  • “successful/completed” or “unsuccessful” attempt- there is no success, or lack of success, when dealing with suicide

What Not To Do!

Films should avoid sending the message that any particular culture is more at risk for suicide.

  • People from all cultures are affected by mental illness and suicide. It is important that the message of the film does not reinforce negative stereotypes. For example, the film should not insinuate that just by being part of a culture or group, a person is more likely to attempt suicide. By using data inappropriately, or making generalities, the film might inadvertently increase stigma or reduce protective factors around suicide.
  • Remember that it is okay to talk about life problems and cultural factors that may impact a person’s ability to talk about their problems or seek help or that increase a person’s risk for suicide such as family issues (pressure to succeed, acculturation, gender identity) or social issues (bullying, break-ups) And to talk about these issues and life problems as a possible contributing factor to why a young person might be feeling hopeless, drinking more or isolating themselves (which are warning signs for suicide), but the film should not point to just one of these events as the cause of suicide.  The truth is that not one of these events causes suicide and usually a person is dealing with multiple tough situations and is showing warning signs.

Disqualifying Content:

Submissions that include this type of content, or deemed to contain inappropriate content, will be disqualified.

1. The film SHOULD NOT include portrayals of suicide deaths or attempts (such as a person jumping off a building or bridge, or holding a gun to their head). Portraying suicide attempts and showing items someone might use for a suicide attempt even in dramatization, can increase chances of an attempt by someone who might be thinking about suicide and exposed to the film.

Be creative and cautious:  If you are considering showing items someone might use for a suicide attempt in your film, we encourage you to think about the purpose and benefit of including this in your film. There are other ways to demonstrate that someone is thinking about suicide without showing a weapon or a bottle of pills. Can you convey the sentiment you are seeking without showing this? In general it is best to avoid showing images of ways people might attempt suicide, especially weapons.

ALL FILMS WITH DEPICTIONS OF WEAPONS WILL BE DISQUALIFIED! In addition, it is at the discretion of the Directing Change Team to disqualify films that are deemed to have a potentially harmful message or image.

Important distinction:  You can show a person thinking about suicide (e.g. looking at pills or standing at the side of a ledge), but you cannot show them actually taking a step off a ledge even if you don’t show the person actually falling. Similarly, you can show a bottle of pills, but don’t show them swallowing the pills. In general it is best to avoid showing images of ways people might attempt suicide, especially weapons.  Also consider that showing images of items/ways people might harm themselves might also be disturbing to those who have lost someone to suicide. Remember, we are focused on prevention and the most important part is educating others about how to help. If you have any questions about this, please contact us!

2. The film should be sensitive to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, with all individuals realistically and respectfully depicted.

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If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
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