In light of Mental Health Awareness Month, the timely feature length independent film The Rest Of Us explores mental health and suicide prevention within a U.S. university. The film is set in Ohio at Blair University in the aftermath of 9/11 and focuses not on those who took their lives, but on the ones who were left behind to grieve and continue living.
The one hour and 22 minute film stars Amanda Debraux who portrays Amy an introverted engineering student at the university. Amy suffers from immense personal loss throughout the film, but it is her resistance and resilience provides inspiration for other students to keep fighting. Debraux is joined by SNL and Big Bad Wolves’ Mars Williams and portrays Amy’s best friend Stayci in the film. The diverse cast includes Devika Bihe portraying Reina, The Vampire Diaries and Shameless’ Raffi Boarsoumian portraying Professor Perzada and Preston Martin as Cal.
The Rest of Us director Linda G. Mills is an author, activist, therapist and scholar. Her last two documentaries Of Many and Better To Live hit the festival circuit from Tribeca Film Festival to the American Film Showcase. Her work in 2014 with Of Many was a collaboration with executive producer Chelsea Clinton, and went on to play at 16 festivals. In 2017, an expanded version of the documentary Of Many: Then And Now, debuted on ABC to 8.1 million viewers.
Mills is currently the inaugural Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor at New York University, where she is also Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life. Her academic work focuses on recovery from trauma, suicide prevention and domestic violence. Mills’ latest feature film The Rest of Us debuting during Mental Health Awareness Month, during a time of civil unrest and an impending global pandemic where mental health risks are at an all-time high, is significant to continuing her advocacy toward recovery and suicide prevention.
The film takes us back to the early 2000’s set against the backdrop of 9/11.
“‘The Rest Of Us’ captures the tectonic shifts that have occurred in the past 20 years in the divided world we often witness and its impact on the youth’s mental health,” Mills says about the film, “Young adults have experienced anxiety and thoughts of suicide at unprecedented rates and technology has caused new levels of social isolation isolation and depression across this traumatic landscape. The impact of racism, including structural racism, on the emotional and economic wellbeing of students of color has led to further mental health inequities for these communities.”
Though heavy subject matter, it is important to discuss the realities of our world in its current state. Let’s look at the statistics: There has been a 56% increase in the teen suicide rate since the mid-2000s. For women aged 10 to 19 years, the suicide rate increased by 70% between 2010-2016. One out of 12 college students actually has a suicide plan.
The film tackles the heart-breaking reality, and how these numbers have particularly effected young adults. It is a moving film, which encourages survivors to keep living and understanding that there is indeed reason to continue to pressing forward.