THS video team

From left to right are: actor Beckam Roberts and video producers Sam Ruot and Baylor Brooks. All Titusville High School juniors, the trio created a video for the 2021 PSA contest for Youth Suicide Prevention which is currently up for vote.

By Garrett Dvorkin

Herald Staff Reporter

Youth Suicide is a topic that can be difficult to talk about. There is a stigma that the more you talk about the issue, the more prevalent it can be.

To help start the conversation and dispel that myth at Titusville High School, three juniors, Sam Ruot, Baylor Brooks and Beckam Roberts, came together to create a video to submit for the 2021 PSA Contest for Youth Suicide Prevention. The 60-second video, informing others to “See the signs (and) save a life” was recently named one of five statewide finalists.

Both Brooks and Ruot are in Art teacher Robert Cartney’s video productions class. As the school had previously been involved with regional suicide prevention projects, they had never entered the state competition.

Brooks and Ruot reached out to their friend, Beckam Roberts, to help act in the video.

With the help School Psychologist Tom Hancock, they started to brainstorm what their video should look like. Hancock siggested they should make their video have a story. Too often, he said, the videos submitted emphasize facts and stats. “You have to get the emotion into it,” said Hancock.

The students were also appreciative to have someone with so much knowledge to help. Through asking questions and planning, Ruot said that Hancock “gave us some background on the issue.”

Ruot and Brooks, who shot and produced the video, chose to create a story around the signs that someone may be suicidal. The two said they wanted to make a video “with an impact.”

Hancock helped the students identify some phrases that can commonly be missed as signs that someone may be suicidal like “I don’t care anymore,” “I’m so tired,” and “I’m not feeling it today.” The hope is that by spreading awareness, the public will be more aware when someone may be struggling.

While it is billed as a contest, the students really see the situation as something else. “This is not a competition to us,” said Ruot. “It is about helping kids and spreading awareness.”

The students said that Titusville has had their own situations regarding youth suicide and are all too familiar with the issue. The students said the driving force behind doing this video, which they did completely outside of school, was to “help kids who are suffering.”

As Titusville had never submitted a video to the state competition, the students really wanted to “represent our school as best as possible,” said Ruot.

During the pandemic, the issues surrounding youth suicide have been magnified. The students said how it has been difficult to stay away from friends and forced to be anti-social.

The students also know for those who have difficult home situations, being forced to spend more time in those environments can be difficult. “There can be trauma at school and at home,” said Ruot. For someone where the “root of the trauma is at home,” both Ruot and Brooks felt that now was an important time for their video to be shared.

Currently, the five finalist videos are up for vote on at psa.preventsuicidepa.org. After clicking on the 2021 tab, anyone can vote once a day until Feb. 26, at noon. Voting is not the only factor used to decide the winner, but is important.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.

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