For five students in professor David Austin’s Speech 331 class, attending a suicide awareness walk at Sacramento State University just wasn’t going to be enough in their project to help the cause of suicide prevention.
So they went beyond their assignment and made a public service announcement that is now online.
Brian Crawford, Martez Connor, Shane Simmons, Connor Vaughan and Joshua Ford all recall easily agreeing that suicide prevention would be their cause, and from then on, things continued to go smoothly as they “built off of each other’s ideas,” said Vaughan.
Connor said the motivation to make a video came from wanting to have a more lasting effect than other options provided.
“People can make flyers and say, ‘Hey, don’t kill yourself,’” said Connor. “When you make a video and try to reach out to the world, that can be a better help than a paper that’s just going to crumple up and get thrown in the garbage.”
The video is a little longer than a minute, and talks about the idea of kindness being used to help make someone’s day better by being kind rather than ignoring signs that they may need help.
“It isn’t always expressed in someone’s eyes or face or mouth. And it’s not always easy to read the signs. Sometimes pain isn’t just some expression we can clearly see. But what is important to know is you’re never alone,” the video says.
“Give a smile on the street, even when someone gives you a dirty look. Because even a simple act of kindness could save someone’s life. You have all the power here; not this video. It’s you. Make this more than just some video. Go out and apply it, and you could really save someone’s life.”
Austin was happy with the group for taking a more positive approach to suicide prevention.
“I think that’s a good message, doing something kind without asking for something back,” said Austin. “Holding the door for somebody instead of letting it slam in their face.”
The video was made in Ford’s apartment over the course of a couple of hours, with actors that Ford knew, and signs drawn by Simmons based on things they had talked about as a group.
“The whole point of it was to be natural and honest,” said Ford. “We weren’t just trying to do something for the look of it.”
Added Austin: “The fact that these five guys came together with a black sheet, table lamps and a cell phone, and produced a video of that quality was way beyond what I expected.”
The group’s original assignment was to first decide what cause they wanted to help, provide a community service in that cause, and then prepare a presentation for the class on what they did.
Ford and the others said that part of their motivation to go beyond that assignment was Austin’s teaching style.
“Halfway through, it shifted from a class to an experience,” said Ford.