SBVC Students Win Award for Short Film on Suicide Prevention

Students at San Bernardino Valley College recently won the local chapter’s 5th Annual Screening and Awards Ceremony of the Directing Change program, a film contest addressing young adult suicide prevention for the Inland Empire.

Shelly Thomas and Fatima Herrera won recognition for their honest and open short film “You are Worthy” to help children and youth at risk of suicide, and to help adults better understand the tragedy of mental illness.  

Directing Change contest is a project of Each Mind Matters: California's mental health movement aimed at preventing suicide and reducing the stigma of mental illness. Dr. Benjamine Pierre Scott, an adjunct professor at SBVC, said he opened the opportunity for his human services students to earn extra credit by entering the local chapter’s contest for the Inland Empire.He hoped the challenge would allow them to put their own stamp of understanding on uneasy conversations around youth suicide.  

“Yes, the faculty is important in supporting it, and making it available, but it's really the student's message. They're able to reach people that I can't,” Scott said.  

The students came up with the idea, shot the film, introduced it and entered it into the competition. “Kids feel that they have no one to talk to, they don't want to talk to their parents,” Thomas said. “Our biggest thing was to make sure that no matter what, you are worthy and there are resources out there.”

The film addresses four categories, including suicide prevention, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Their message of connecting youth to help before it is too late resonated with judges and earned recogniton at the contest’s reception. 

Scott, who is also a staff development officer for Riverside County Prevention and Early Intervention, oversees the local Directing Change chapter in Riverside County along with Diana Griffis. While they are reaching many with resources in Riverside County, he wanted to get his SBVC students connected to the positive message.

The films are utilized for training, in treatment and therapy, and to help people learn to advocate for themselves. “It helps at the high school level, helps people to talk about their struggles and how they've overcome,” he said. “It helps police departments, colleges, and universities and other community centers able to utilize these videos.”  

The project is consistent with a stronger focus on suicide prevention at SBVC. Through his class, Scott encourages a group and family dynamic, as well as dialogue on mental health and family challenges. Hope is the larger message to let students know there are places to turn for help. The Directing Change project gives people a way of telling their story from an empowered perspective. “I want my students to feel empowered rather than burdened down, he said. “That's what we hope to do, to provide more access to tools, to learn that they're not alone, to tell the other side of the story.”  

Click here to view the now award-winning short film “You are Worthy”.