I Made This For You is a film that’s not going to be easy for a lot of people to watch, but one that I can confidently say really matters, and deserves a lot of attention. The film deals with suicide, in a very up front way. It starts with the staggering statistic that 125 people in the UK lose their life to suicide every single week, and from there it takes a much more personal look at the issue.
The film is a piece of fiction, but it’s also very real, and it would be easy to believe that you’re watching something very real; and it may even be something very real for a lot of people. It follows Al (Gary Grant), a man who has already attempted suicide, and is becoming more and more isolated and withdrawn. His friend Danny, played by writer and director Christian Solimeno, tires to get Al to talk to him, but can’t get him on the phone, and isn’t let into his flat. Instead, he leaves him a DVD labelled ‘I Made This For You’.
Al eventually puts the film on, finding that Danny has gone and spoken to Al’s friends and family, some of whom Al hasn’t seen in years, and talked to them about what Al means to them, and how they feel about his recent suicide attempt.
The film is pretty basic, it’s Al sitting on his sofa watching a film, and the camera cuts between him and the talking heads, but the framing doesn’t really matter here, it’s the story and the message that matters. Over the course of an hour Al hears people telling him that he touched their lives, that they love him, that they’re there for him, and how much it would hurt them is he went away.
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The film doesn’t judge, however, it doesn’t frame suicide as something that’s selfish or cruel to do to those you leave behind, like some works do. Instead, it acknowledges that for someone to take their own life they must be in such a dark and lonely place, must be in so much pain. It acknowledges that people often don’t get the help they need when they try reaching out, that mental health and depression isn’t taken seriously. But it also makes a point that suicide hurts others, that the loss of a loved one can really fucking hurt.
This is where the film really hits hard. I’ve lost a friend to suicide, someone who was still so young, had so much life ahead of them. I didn’t realise how much pain she was in, how much she needed someone to help her. Losing her hurt, it made me feel like a shit friend, that maybe I wasn’t there enough for her, and I think about our plans to meet up falling through just the month before she lost her life and think ‘Could I have done more?’; I question if I let her down and helped push her to that point. This is what suicide does to people.
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It was this kind of thinking that stopped me from taking my life. I was ready to take my life on two occasions. I felt so alone, in so much pain. I didn’t know where to go or who I could turn to. I was ready to end everything. But it was the thought of what that would do to others that ultimately stopped me. I thought of my poor housemates who’d have to find my body. I thought about how my parents would feel having to bury their child. I thought about friends who would feel like they let me down. That stopped me. Realising that me taking my own life would hurt another is what stopped me.
That’s what this film does, that’s the message that it’s trying to put across, that Al learns. Not in a way to shame people into not taking their life, but to remind them that if even one person would be hurt by your passing then you have a person in your life that loves you, a person that you can reach out to. This is a film with a really important message, that’s trying to do something, and it deserves notice. It won’t end suicide – one of the cast members sadly took their life during the post production – it’s something that will never be eliminated completely; but it might help someone, it might save a life.
I Made This For You is free to watch online for one month from 10th September, World Suicide Prevention Day.