The Failure of “A Star is Born” & Suicide – NAMI CCNS – Chicagoland Mental Health
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The Failure of “A Star is Born” & Suicide

A Star is Born, a new movie remake by Director Bradley Cooper, left me with some concerning thoughts.  The movie is great, but also is one of the biggest failures.  Why does it fail?

This movie digs back into the sad and unfortunate reality of mental health and suicide. (Spoiler Alert)  Why would anyone “in their right mind” commit suicide?  When you look at the onslaught of celebrity suicides, over doses and early deaths, it cuts like a razor.  When these celebrities seemingly had it all, they needed more from life than life could ever give them.  The pain of living was too much that they committed suicide or medicated themselves to a point where their lives were ended in an overdose.  This is serious!

This Movie Fails and Fails BIG!

Suicide is Not Entertainment!  The bottom line is that suicide, in this movie, was made entertainment.  This was not a love story.  This was a story of a man that needed real help, but fell through the cracks despite being in AA and going through rehab.  In the movie, Jackson Maine, the movie’s main character, alludes to committing suicide through his humored remembrance of his suicide attempt as a 13 year old boy.  This is where the “social worker” in the rehab community missed the cue.

I personally have lost 4 friends to suicide or an overdose.  Watching this movie, I couldn’t help thinking of them.  They were all so bright and full of life and truly loved people, but decided that they weren’t enough or the pain was too much.  In the end, they decided that ending their lives could somehow solve their problem and was a real solution for them.  However, their suicide, like this movie, only created more heartache.  That’s where I find this movie leaving me.  I can’t bring my friends back, but we can prevent senseless suicides when the opportunity presents itself.  “A Star is Born”  failed to stop another suicide.

 

The Failure of “A Star is Born”

This movie had a present day obligation that went unmet.  This was a great opportunity to talk to people that had been contemplating suicide.  It failed to direct people to someone that would be willing to listen to them.  It failed to make a difference in the world.  It failed to stop another suicide!  If you are struggling or have struggled with alcohol, drugs or have thought of suicide, please be aware.  This movie is riddled with scenes of drunkenness and drugs.

 

In the midst of what could have been a a clear miss on the part of all involved in the movie “A Star is Born”, Lady Gaga and Tedros Adhanom wrote a letter on the very subject of suicide.  They cite the fact that nearly 800,000 people around the globe commit suicide every single year!  The article entitled “800,000 people kill themselves every year. What can we do?” addresses many of these issues in an ever stressful world.

“In too many places mental health support services are non-existent and those with treatable conditions are criminalized. Bold action is long overdue”.

Lady Gaga &Tedros Adhanom address suicide awareness

You can read more, here.

Suicide | Not An Option

There are people that loved Jackson Maine in the movie, and there is always someone that is hurt more by act of suicide than the issues and problems facing us in life and those facing a mental health issue.  Think about that.  Suicide breaks love down and will never have a chance to give.  Suicide only takes.  In this movie, Jackson Maine had much more love to give and by committing suicide took everything away from the people that loved him.

 

Suicide Hotlines

If you are thinking about suicide or simply need to talk to someone, please call the suicide prevention hotline.  Know that there are people that would be devastated by you even thinking of this!

 

Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline

If you are a Veteran and have thought of suicide or just need someone to talk to, please call the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255


A Star is Born | Movie Information

“A Star is Born” stars four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper,” “American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and multiple award-winning, Oscar-nominated music superstar Lady Gaga, in her first leading role in a major motion picture. Cooper helms the drama, marking his directorial debut.

In this new take on the tragic love story, he plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.


The cast of “A Star is Born” also includes Andrew Dice Clay, with Dave Chappelle and Sam Elliott.

In addition to playing Ally, Gaga, who earned her Oscar nod for the song “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground,” performs original songs in the film, which she wrote with Cooper and a handful of artists, including Lukas Nelson, Jason Isbell and Mark Ronson. All the music is original and was recorded live.

“A Star is Born” is produced by Bill Gerber, Jon Peters, Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips and Lynette Howell Taylor. Ravi Mehta, Basil Iwanyk, Niija Kuykendall, Sue Kroll, Michael Rapino and Heather Parry serve as executive producers. The screenplay is by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters.

Collaborating with Cooper behind the scenes are Oscar-nominated director of photography Matthew Libatique (“Black Swan”), production designer Karen Murphy, three-time Oscar-nominated editor Jay Cassidy (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Into the Wild”), and costume designer Erin Benach.

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, in Association with Live Nation Productions, in Association with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, A Jon Peters/Bill Gerber/Joint Effort Production, “A Star is Born.” Slated for release on October 5, 2018, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. It is rated R.

“A Star is Born” stars four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper,” “American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and multiple award-winning, Oscar-nominated music superstar Lady Gaga, in her first leading role in a major motion picture. Cooper helms the drama, marking his directorial debut.

In this new take on the tragic love story, he plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

The cast of “A Star is Born” also includes Andrew Dice Clay, with Dave Chappelle and Sam Elliott.

In addition to playing Ally, Gaga, who earned her Oscar nod for the song “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground,” performs original songs in the film, which she wrote with Cooper and a handful of artists, including Lukas Nelson, Jason Isbell and Mark Ronson. All the music is original and was recorded live.

“A Star is Born” is produced by Bill Gerber, Jon Peters, Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips and Lynette Howell Taylor. Ravi Mehta, Basil Iwanyk, Niija Kuykendall, Sue Kroll, Michael Rapino and Heather Parry serve as executive producers. The screenplay is by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters.

Collaborating with Cooper behind the scenes are Oscar-nominated director of photography Matthew Libatique (“Black Swan”), production designer Karen Murphy, three-time Oscar-nominated editor Jay Cassidy (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Into the Wild”), and costume designer Erin Benach.

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, in Association with Live Nation Productions, in Association with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, A Jon Peters/Bill Gerber/Joint Effort Production, “A Star is Born.” Slated for release on October 5, 2018, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. It is rated R.

Comments(10)

  1. Reply
    Megan says:

    A Star is Born was real.

    I’m going to counter what was said in this blog. I think the most important thing is: “A Star is Born” was NOT written for you, it was written for a larger, general population. It is clear that the movie resonated with a large number of people—people who, undoubtedly, have had experiences with tragedies portrayed in the film.

    It’s a movie—a remake of three previous movies that have the same tragic ending. The movie was not supposed to be about the prevention of suicide; the directors were following a storyline that had been crafted for decades.

    Hollywood, in no way, had an obligation to prevent suicide—Jack’s suicide is built into the narrative and this narrative is based on reality. Jack’s life’s story is tragic and his life mirrors many who struggle with the same issues depicted in the movie. This is reality. I believe the movie does shed light on people who fall through the cracks, as Jack did.

    The movie does—in my opinion—address suicide in a real way—it was tragic, there was substance abuse, great struggle, a prior attempt at suicide, and there was deep mourning. Throughout this film he suffered like many people do, and too often, their needs are not met. Again, reality.

    That humor was included when Jack attempted suicide at the age of thirteen was his prerogative. People do laugh at attempts they’ve made; this is their right. It’s their experience; no one owns them and it’s theirs to express.

    The use of alcohol and drugs is, again, depicting reality—I’m not sure why there needs to be a warning that the movie is “riddled with scenes of drunkenness and drug use.” Is it your assumption that people can’t handle viewing drugs and alcohol? Why? Again, this is reality.

    Why is “A Star is Born” not a love story? Does love not exist among pain, addiction, and suicide? Or is it reserved for only those who are healthy? Did the movie not thread together a relationship where love existed? If not, I guess then, the joke is on the rest of us who smiled at the sweetness of their relationship, and cried at the painful ending. I guess we just don’t “get it.”

    I think it’s important that we recognize that there are many ways to address love, mental illness, and suicide. I believe this film is authentic and did an excellent job depicting what happens to people who are struggling with substance abuse, depression, and who tragically end their lives.

    Hollywood did not fail. It did the opposite—It made it all real.

    • Reply
      Zecharia Gilbert says:

      Seeing this movie from the filter of “mental health awareness” and “suicide prevention”, yes this movie failed in moving the needle to save lives. Did the director of A Star is Born have an obligation to do so, no. I agree with you. Would it have been beneficial for audiences watching the movie to have a warning or a call to action to assist those dealing with with drugs or suicide, yes!

      • Reply
        Megan says:

        Hi!

        What would a call to action look like? Or a warning? If you were to assist them in a call the action, what would you have them (producers) do?

        Megan

      • Reply
        Megan says:

        Hi,

        Making children and young adults less mentally well through “Good intentions.”

        I’ve been following the movement of “trigger warnings” and so-called “safe spaces” that are primarily on college campuses (US, UK, Canada). Trigger warnings are supposed to protect people from being uncomfortable/offended/traumatized from content, a phrase, or even a simple word. For instance, at one elite university, a law professor was asked not to teach “rape Law” because it might traumatize a student or students (she was also asked not to use the word “violates”). So much for academia, discourse, and critical thinking. There’s a best-selling book called “The Coddling of the American Mind” which details the movement; a movement where the “demanders” of triggers, and “warnings” think they are helping but they are actually making people less mentally healthy. The authors give a classic CBT approach to health: A woman gets stuck in an elevator. She then becomes anxious of elevators and won’t go on one. So, does a good psychologist recommend she never go on the elevator? Of course not. This is unhealthy. The psychologist would have her work through her fears and slowly get back on an elevator. (Megan: is “elevator” a “trigger” word for her?)

        By announcing there might be discomfort, is going against human resiliency. When students (or anyone) is told “Oh, the material I’m covering in class today might trigger you” puts this into their minds and they become more anxiety-ridden. Our children are becoming less healthy, less mentally healthy. They are not learning coping skills, their parents are now called “bulldozer” parents – who move everything out of the way so their child does not have to face anything challenging where they would learn to copy, work through fears, etc. Girls are doing worse than boys (see article). There are numerous articles and interviews with the authors. Below is just one. If we (the collective) were doing what’s “right” then rates of suicidal thinking and attempts in children would not have doubled between 2007-2015 (CNN – Google it).

        By the way, I was told not to grade in red ink because it “traumatizes” students. So what did I do? I grade in red ink. My students are fine. In 18 years I’ve never had a student fall to the ground, curl into a ball, and cry. We need to make them tough, bring back rigor, bring back resilience. Children who are brought up with coping skills, etc. have less anxiety. These children are now entering college and colleges can’t hire counselors fast enough. And, they are being drugged.

        Social Media is another part of this but you can read about it. Well-documented that it’s making children, teens, etc. less mentally healthy. Adults too. Some of my students mentioned last week that they have to tell their own parents to put away their phones at dinnertime. And, some parents get angry!!

        https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

  2. Reply
    Kyra says:

    Thank you, Megan. I second that 1000%.

  3. Reply
    Dejia says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Megan.

  4. Reply
    William says:

    Thank you for your subjective views regarding the movie, Megan et al. Today we buried a son, grandson, nephew and loving friend to many, with a note that was left for us to watch the movie “a star is born” , then we will understand why he committed suicide in the garage. Then I checked up on reviews and found some very shallow views regarding “reality” and praise Holltwood, we’re living the grief of whatever the movie triggered in him that lead to a very real tragedy at this moment. This movie will not be watched by our family. With much sadness – William.

    • Reply
      Mary Beth says:

      William,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I found my father after he committed suicide and I have never been the same. Thank you for your comment, though I know it was not easy to write. It angers me that this production influenced your family member’s decisions and did not include a call-to-action in the film. Unfortunately, I fear that you are not the only family influenced by this negative film.
      Best,
      Mary Beth

      • Reply
        Zecharia Gilbert says:

        Beth,

        Thank you for your comment. I understand how hard it is to lose a loved one to suicide! I’ve lost two people in my life to this and it always stings! We may have bad days, but it’s important to keep focus on how beautiful and precious life is!

  5. Reply
    Megan says:

    Hello,

    William, I am sorry for your loss. Suicide is so difficult to cope with and, unfortunately, people do end up taking their lives for a variety of reasons. Roughly 40,000 commit suicide each year in this country, and there are 40,000 different stories behind each one. And, in each case, they fell through the cracks. This is why I don’t believe A Star is Born is to blame – it actually shows someone falling through the cracks, and remember, “Jack” was suffering just as many do. I’m just a bit baffled why a fourth remake of the same film–which shows what people actually go through–is viewed so negatively. Instead of harming people, perhaps it’s doing the opposite: helping people? This, I’m most interested in. I also doubt there has been a surge in suicides since the release of the film; rather, look at war, bullying, drug abuse (much initiated by big pharma), technology and more (Social Media is causing more depression…this is backed by science.)

    Just my thoughts,

    Megan

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