A grieving father seeks answers after his 14-year-old son dies by suicide. He uncovers painful truths about the lives of teens, the impact of unfettered access to internet and social media, and the shocking rise of depression among America’s youth. The journey brings him together with young suicide survivors, prevention experts, and parents trying to understand the 70% increase in adolescent suicide. Closer to home, with his family fractured, he examines his son’s technology use to discover what no parent wants to find. Seeking to find the warning signs that were missed, he instead finds ways to reverse the isolation and disconnectedness that is killing our youth.
What We Thought:
Tell My Story is a documentary on the rise of adolescent suicide over the past 20 years or so. It tries to give reasons for the increase and also provides personal stories of loss. The main focus is the Reid family who lost their 14 year old to suicide. The father is the main person in the film, but it also talks with his daughter and other sons. The father travels the country talking to others about their situations and what can be done.
One of the reasons the film gives for the rise is social media. Kids today all use social media and it causes a terrible reaction in their self-esteem. They strive for likes, comments and followers and their self-esteem is tied to that attention. On top of that crave for attention, seeing photoshopped pictures of celebrities on Instagram and Twitter give teens an awful idea of what they are supposed to look like. That’s been around for decades, but for some reason celebrity worship has gotten worse and worse through the years, probably because of reality TV and things like Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Another factor given for the rise, which I firmly believe is the case, is helicopter parenting and similar styles of parenting that don’t let their kids breath. The father and another parent were talking about how before you would take your child to the park to play and the parent would sit away and let kids be kids. If one child was going up a slide and another one wanted to go first, they dealt with it on their own terms. Now parents hover over every aspect of their kids’ lives, constantly with them, not letting them make mistakes and even worse, not letting them learn from those mistakes. Kids today don’t know how to handle any type of conflict because their parents didn’t let them learn how to do it. Helicopter parenting and participation trophies have done a lot of harm to how kids cope.
One thing I will disagree with is the claim that things are far worse for kids nowadays. Things like bullying and schoolwork are no worse today than they were for previous generations. It’s different today, yes 100% agree, but to me it’s easier. Cyberbullying wasn’t around when I was a kid, but to me it’s easier to block someone online than it is to go to class everyday and get harassed in person. If you didn’t live your life online you wouldn’t deal with cyberbullying and negative comments. Do you know how fast I block someone on social media today? Instantly. The kids talk about the strive for good grades, getting your work done and the pressure involved, but that’s not new either. I was in all honors classes in high school, grades meant a scholarship to college. Every generation thinks they have it worse than before, but then they grow up and realize everyone had issues someway or another.
Tell My Story is an eye opening documentary on a subject that is very taboo to people. The effects of social media, cell phones/technology and new aged parenting are all touched upon in the movie. The film was made prior to Covid-19 and I can’t imagine how damaging lockdowns, lack of in-person schooling, sports and activities are on this current generation. If you have kids, sit down and watch it with them, start a conversation and ask them how things are going.