“After enduring years of abuse from his alcoholic father and the school bully Chase, Jesse Peterson (Max MacKenzie) tells his best friend Sarah he plans on committing suicide. After promising to tell no one, Sarah (Katerina Eichenberger) takes it upon herself to try to stop him, by any means necessary.” This is the logline for Just Say Goodbye, an indie film opening in theatres on May 10. Parentology had the opportunity to preview the film and approached it with these questions in mind: Should your kids watch the film? Should you watch it with them? Does the movie open the door for discussing suicide?
A question to get the conversation started: What would you do if you found yourself in Sarah’s shoes? At one point, Sarah gives Jesse the number of a suicide prevention hotline. Jesse refuses to call the number, and makes a joke about it. She admonishes him for his flippancy, but makes no further attempts to get him to try the hotline.
What else could Sarah have done to help her friend? In the film, she approaches one of the bullies, politely asks him to stop tormenting Jesse. She even suggests they try and become friends. This, of course, doesn’t go over well.
Sarah finds herself going to extremes, offering to have sex with Jesse if he’ll consider living.
What Sarah doesn’t do? She never asks an adult for help, be it a teacher, parent, mentor or suicide hotline specialist they contact themselves. Parents can use this opportunity to reassure their kids that, yes, adults will help. Not only will they reach out to the teen with suicidal thoughts, but to the friend who’s feeling responsible for their fate.
Also to address while discussing Just Say Goodbye – the faces of suicide aren’t all the same. Even those people who appear to have a wonderful life may be silently suffering whether due to circumstances or issues such as depression.
*Note re: graphic content — Just Say Goodbye contains a few scenes of violence, mostly inflicted upon a teenager. A decent amount of swear words pepper the dialogue. The film does depict suicide in two scenes, though neither contains blood.
*If you believe your child may be at risk for suicide, contact a mental health provider or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.