Documentary explores taboo subject

The Hidden Face of Suicide

By Anthony Bonaparte The Suburban Quebec?s suicide rate has long been the highest of any province in Canada. But the figures we don?t often talk about are the number of relatives and friends who subsequently bear a heavy emotional burden. This Sunday, a documentary on the subject will premiere free of charge to the public at Concordia University?s J.A. De Sève Cinema. The Hidden Face of Suicide, produced and directed by Yehudit Silverman, is the culmination of her personal journey into the world of survivors. A world where the Montreal filmmaker and professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapy at Concordia belongs. By accident, at age 17, Silverman learned that her uncle, who died before she was born, had taken his own life ? something her family kept quiet. ?I think what really affected me was the silence,? she said during a recent telephone interview. ?We had never spoken about it and I wondered why.?

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In trying to understand that silence, Silverman created a touching film that raises awareness by meeting with members of Family Survivors of Suicide (FSOS), a Montreal self-help group founded 22 years ago. Combining her artistic and therapeutic skills, she helps the members find a unique way of expressing themselves. Though Silverman says she never got answers from her own family, she found her own by making the film, hearing others? stories, and discovering a common thread. ?People didn?t want to hear,? she says. ?And there?s a tremendous amount of taboo around suicide.? In the film, Silverman asks them to participate in an appropriately creative and eventually therapeutic process ? creating masks. ?From what I was hearing, they had to wear masks, and that?s what evolved. They felt like they had to hide behind a mask.? She says the masks only became therapeutic once the survivors saw the film. ?I think the making and the wearing of the masks was very difficult because it brought them right back to the moment 16979 Transcanadienne

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St-Charles exit of the suicide and realizing how much they?ve had to wear a mask because society does not openly talk about it, or even acknowledge their pain.? But being open and honest about it is what the filmmaker says is needed. ?The people in the film feel very strongly, as I do, that it needs to be talked about because the shame almost put on survivors from society makes them feel a sense of blame. That just adds to the burden.? That?s why groups like FSOS provide such a valuable service. ?It?s wonderful to be able to go someplace where people know exactly how you feel,? says Silverman. ?You don?t have to talk. You?re totally accepted at whatever stage of mourning you?re in and all the different emotions that, unfortunately, survivors are left with.? The Hidden Face of Suicide (www.yehuditsilverman.com) will be screened Sunday, April 11 from 3-5 p.m. at the Concordia?s J.A. De Sève Cinema, 1400 De Maisonneuve West. Admission is free and there will be a reception following the film. All proceeds from the

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