What ‘The Bear’ and ‘Reservation Dogs’ did well

At first, A bear is a show about a talented chef who comes home to save his family’s Italian sandwich shop in Chicago, after his brother dies. The powerful drama, the summer hit on Hulu, is many things at once: a meditation on the grind and joy of cooking, a depiction of painful relationships, and an unflinching look at tender and violent masculinity. Surprisingly,A bear it also talks about what it means to be a suicide survivor.

This last part is not followed. The show’s visuals tend to focus on his real-life experiences at the restaurant. But almost every adult struggles with the grief of losing a loved one to suicide. That would be Mike (Jon Bernthal), who ran Chicagoland’s First Beef and left the restaurant to his brother Carmy (Jeremy Allen White).

Shocked by her brother’s suicide, Carmy slowly explains what she can about the tragedy. Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Mike’s best friend and lieutenant at The Beef, mentions being drunk. Considering Mike’s writing problems, Carmy is faced with a lot of debt. (Drug use problems and financial problems are suicidal ideation.) Throughout the show’s first eight-episode season, Carmy goes through the various registers of grief and guilt common to suicide survivors.

When Corrie started watching A bear, he did not know that it would be suicide. He remembers a review that promised a quick tour of a chaotic kitchen that doubled as a “microcosm of society.”

Corrie, who uses her first name to protect her family’s privacy, lost her 20-year-old son two years ago. When the nature of Mike’s death was revealed in the first episode, he took a moment to react. He sees the suicide pictures he watches.

Corrie, who was very appreciative, said: “It’s worth it if it’s been well looked after.” A bear‘s attention to the treatment of suicide. “When it’s presented in a way that’s not shaming and stigmatizing…I watch it, and I don’t feel like I’m alone, or I don’t feel like my child is so messed up.”

A bear isn’t the only TV show to cover serious issues about suicide. Service Easttown mare it caused the protagonist’s deep grief due to the unresolved grief of his son’s suicide. The second season of Ted Lasso he revealed that the character’s father had died by suicide, a turn that brought new challenges to Ted’s insistence on kindness as a way of life. Rescue Dogsa show about a united group of Native Americans living in a community in Oklahoma, it talks about all kinds of grief, but especially the one that affects a community when a young person dies by suicide.

These shows don’t make suicide a huge contributor to someone’s growth. Instead, they provide vivid, compassionate images of surviving suicide. About 5.5. Millions of people experience suicide each year in the US. Careful discussion of this topic has the power to reduce stigma for survivors, who may face judgmental responses or lose friends and family after a loved one dies by suicide.

Brett Wean, director of literature and entertainment at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said he is pleased with the number of shows that talk about suicide.

“Suicide survivors have different perspectives and have their own ways of coping – and these shows have their own creative voices, which allow them to explore this issue in different ways,” Wean said in an email.

They really appreciate it when suicide stories are relegated to one “special” section to be quickly forgotten. Instead, some of these show “a loss of self-esteem and well-being in the lives of the characters.”

Beyond shame and sorrow

When Native writers a Rescue Dogs decided to tell the story of a suicidal teenager, he brought to the table his experiences of loss, says co-producer Tazbah Chavez. The suicide rate for people of color in the US is far superior to any race or tribe. Chavez says the writers highlighted other risk factors, including mental illness, domestic violence, and historical trauma, but deliberately chose not to provide a single cause of Daniel’s death.

“It’s all kinds of pain that the guy’s going through, that’s what the guy’s dealing with,” Chavez says. “For many of us, we feel like we are walking through a very deep hole because of what has happened to our people and our communities.”

Daniel (Dalton Cramer) mourns with his friends, who collect the temple and some of its belongings. They are planning a trip to California in his honor. Daniel’s cousin, Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), talks to a picture of him on the wall in the family home. Some people think that they were the last to see Daniel, and show guilt about what they wanted to do differently. Over time, these characters find comfort and support in each other, and no one blames Daniel for taking his own life.

“I think we don’t want anyone to be embarrassed on either side,” Chavez says.

In the second season, now streaming on Hulu, friend Daniel Chimbalongondo (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai) has an unexpected funny exchange in the bathroom with Ghost (Dallas Goldtooth) about the need to move on from his grief.

“Get over it? Shit. You ain’t got over it, Cvpon,” says Spirit, using the Muscogee term of endearment for “boy”. “We mourn those we lost, we cry, we cut our hair, we cut ourselves, we go through all the emotions. We tear ourselves apart to build new ones on the other side. You go through everything. so that they know that they can go, that we will miss them, but that it will be better without them .”

There may be a universal sense of sadness in this exchange, but it is very different from the doctors’ offices where the title characters Easttown mare and Ted Lasso face their buried grief, or an Al-Anon meeting inside A bear where Carmy talks agonizingly for seven minutes about losing her brother first to an unknown split and then to suicide.

Rescue Dogs “It shows how the entire community has been affected, and it’s also very culturally sensitive,” Wean said.

While grief drives suicidal thoughts Rescue Dogs and A bear, these shows also show that the person who died was difficult. This is no small thing for a lost survivor who is used to painting one side of the deceased.

In both cases Rescue Dogs and A bear, Daniel and Mike are seen looking happy. Corrie was deeply moved to see that Mike’s main story showed him to be a happy man who cooked and joked with his siblings. The affectionate exchange between Carmy and the First Cowgirl is a poignant reminder that Mike had a caring relationship.

Corrie said: “He was loved by everyone. “His focus was on that kind of thing, which I appreciated, not on his death, which is what survivors are always dealing with.”

Lena Heilmann, a suicidal person who has never seen a show, would like more suicide fiction to include the complications of death. The grief continues, and there may be anger at the person or circumstances that increased the risk of suicide, but there may also be growth after the trauma, rituals that honor the deceased in loving ways, and new joy as the survivor rebuilds his life. .

“One of the things I wish we could do better in all forms of broadcasting … is to combine the happy memories and the love that is part of the sadness,” says Heilmann.

Heilmann, whose sister died 10 years ago and now works in the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says that by combining good memories and lasting love with grief, fictional images can help people who are grieving. If you have never experienced suicide, feel free to help the survivors.

Showing the loss of suicide, not just suicide

Although television writers are covering suicide with great interest, they are still struggling to portray the death. Carmy explains how her brother died twice, remembering once. Ted Lasso shares with his assistant the memory of finding his father’s body. There is no list that puts death on the screen.

This is often accompanied by evidence-based guidelines not to show the death in order to reduce the risk of contagion that may lead to suicidal ideation in vulnerable viewers, although the preference does not explain the approach. Easttown mare and Rescue Dogs both include brief shots of the human body. Although all this is nonsense, the way is still visible. (Images can also be difficult for survivors, who may be at risk of suicide if lost.)

Chavez, who wrote and directed the scenes in which Daniel dies, says that the writers wanted to avoid making the death fun or exciting, or giving the impression that suicide would be a “painless moment… of liberation.” Most importantly, Daniel is not as visible to his loved ones as he is now, a choice the writers made so as not to leave younger viewers feeling like he might die by suicide but still be there. However, Chavez felt that showing the death was important to “get the results” of losing Daniel.

In hindsight, it may be difficult to convince writers and producers that ditching the formula is a matter of storytelling rather than avoiding difficult situations, but Wean says it’s possible to reduce transmission without sacrificing creativity.

“If they’re honestly investigating suicide, the depth of the story isn’t in the flashy moments — it’s what may have been in front of them, and the consequences they have,” Wean wrote.

He realized that Rescue Dogs‘ The great interest in this topic helped to balance the well-known image of Daniel’s death, which appears in the seventh episode of the first season, and repeat it as a quick recap in the second season.

In each section on suicide, Wean recommends that there be early warning and crisis support at the end. At the beginning of the story about Daniel’s death, the program warned of “difficult things”. The final words encourage viewers to “Take action and be present with others” and provide the number of 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).

Even the TV series must follow the guidelines regarding the reduction of transmission, shows like A bear, Rescue Dogs, Ted Lassoand Easttown mare They are working on the difficult task of including compassionate images of people who have taken their own lives.

“These shows promote wellness, open conversation, and let viewers know that there is support for suicide survivors,” Wean wrote.

If you are feeling suicidal or suffering from mental illness, please talk to someone. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm ET, or by email info@nami.org. If you don’t like the phone, consider using the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Chat on crisischat.org. Here is a global inventory.

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