Film about young adults, suicide highlights spring lecture series

Contact: Renée Allen
Photo of Lisa Klein, documentary director, standing behind a camera on a tripod.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A screening and panel discussion of "The 'S' Word," a film about young adults and suicide, is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., as part of a spring Lee Honors College Lyceum Lecture series, which begins Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Western Michigan University.

The screening, which is the fifth event being offered in the series, includes an appearance by Lisa Klein, director of the documentary. The entire series is free and open to the public, with seating offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to directing "The 'S' Word," Klein co-directed "Of Two Minds," a journey into the lives of people living, struggling and triumphing with bipolar disorder. She is also the survivor of her father's and brother's suicides and has struggled with the "whys" for years, along with the guilt, shame and confusion that lingers in suicide's wake. There is no more highly charged personal issue for Klein, and for that reason she has been driven to document it and open a much-needed discussion.

"It is time for us to boldly talk about suicide because no family should have to experience that which radiates outward for generations to come," says Klein.

"The 'S' Word" shines a light on a topic that has long been stigmatized and buried with the lives it claims. The goals of the film are to open conversation, reduce the shame and silence that have shadowed suicide for far too long, and strive toward prevention of the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. One of the main causes of suicide is disconnection. A major objective of this film is to reduce that isolation by showing people that they are not alone.

Titled "Mental Health Matters: College Student Mental Health in the 21st Century," the spring 2018 Lyceum series is intended to respond to the college student mental health issues that are rising in both frequency and severity. The series addresses common mental health concerns in this population, offering practical strategies to maintain wellness and assist those who are struggling. Speakers will focus on awareness, prevention and resilience as they relate to mental health challenges. 

The speaker series topic arose from discussions initiated by the current dean of the Lee Honors College, Dr. Gary H. Bischof, who is also a marriage and family therapist, as he began his role as dean in 2017. It was apparent that the honors college and WMU are similar to many campuses in the United States that have seen a marked increase in the incidence and severity of mental health challenges among college students.

Bischof notes the lecture series is part of a multi-pronged approach to improve education, prevention and early intervention, as well as reduce stigma around mental health issues. A multidisciplinary committee was formed to plan the series that included WMU personnel Brian Fuller, counseling services; Dr. Scott Gaynor, psychology; Dr. Kathy Lewis-Ginebaugh, interdisciplinary health programs; Dr. Glinda Rawls, counselor education and counseling psychology; graduate students Kate Hibbard-Gibbons and Alexander Hamilton; undergraduate and honors college student Emily Smith; and community member Lacee Lyons of Gryphon Place.

"The intent of the series is to raise awareness of common mental health issues, offer solutions and provide encouragement and hope that those dealing with these types of challenges can be successful and thrive," says Bischof. 

Spring Lyceum Lecture Series schedule

The lecture series is held at noon every Wednesday in the Lee Honors College lounge, unless otherwise stated.

  • Jan. 17, "Mental Health as a Public Health Issue: Local Initiatives and Resources," Lacee Lyons, chief operating officer, Gryphon Place; Dr. Lia Gaggino, medical director, Bronson Behavioral Health; Jane Konyndyk, deputy director of program services, Kalamazoo County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Dianne Shaffer, director of systems development, Kalamazoo County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and Dr. Amos Aduroja, WMU associate professor of interdisciplinary health programs.
  • Jan. 24, "Depression: Symptoms and Strategies," Dr. Scott Gaynor, WMU associate professor of psychology.
  • Jan. 31, "13 Reasons Why Not," Dr. Kathy Lewis-Ginebaugh, licensed psychologist, WMU associate professor of interdisciplinary health programs and director of Campus-Wide Suicide Prevention Program.
  • Feb. 7, "Healthy Minds Study: Current Issues and Trends in Campus Mental Health," Sara Abelson, Healthy Minds Study staff and former vice president of Active Minds.
  • Feb. 7, "The 'S' Word: A Screening and Panel Discussion of a Film about Young Adults and Suicide," featuring Lisa Klein, director of the documentary, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 14, "What to Do When Someone You Know is Struggling," Kenneth Martin Jr., Licensed Master Social Worker, case manager, WMU Student Affairs.
  • Feb. 21, "The Pulse of Anxiety is Rising," Dr. Amy Naugle, WMU associate professor of psychology.
  • Feb. 28, "The Somebodiness of African American Men," Dr. Phillip Johnson, WMU associate professor of counselor education and counseling psychology.
  • March 14, "How Can Good Enough Be Enough: Perfectionism in Perspective," Kate Hibbard-Gibbons, WMU doctoral student in counseling psychology, and Alexander Hamilton, WMU master's student in industrial/organizational behavior management.
  • March 21, "Technology and Mental Health: Challenges and Resources," Dr. Emily Lattie, Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University.
  • March 28, "Medications 101 and Mental Health Treatment Options," Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, WMU Sindecuse staff psychiatrist.
  • April 4, "Healthy Relationships," Dr. Gary H. Bischof, dean of WMU's Lee Honors College, and Dr. Jou-Chen Chen, WMU assistant professor of family and consumer sciences.
  • April 11, "Grit, Resiliency and Self-Care," Brian Fuller, interim director, WMU Counseling Services.
  • April 18, "Stories of Recovery and Resilience: A Student Panel."

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