When silence isn’t golden

“Bullied to Silence” premieres in Phoenix this Saturday (Photo: Tami Pivnick)

Another film about bullying is making its way to Phoenix this weekend, with two screenings at the Phoenix Art Museum. Its title, “Bullied to Silence,” was inspired by those who “choose not to have a voice” and those who’ve been silenced by suicide in the aftermath of bullying, according to writer and producer Susan Broude.

The film features people, including some in Arizona, whose lives have been touched by bullying. For each of them, reflects Broude, where was a psychological component. Fear. Anxiety. Low self esteem. Depression. It’s important, she says, to help both the bullied and the bully.

One story recounted in the film is that of an identical twin in Maine who “became a cutter” during fifth grade. Before Broude interviewed the 15-year-old teen, she’d been hospitalized with anxiety and depression for several weeks. In talking with her, Broude first heard of the taunting term “emo” that’s used by kids to describe peers who seem dark or disturbed somehow.

Another shares the journey of a boy “who had lots of OCD traits” and would sometimes bite himself. He too was hospitalized for “severe anxiety and depression,” but went on to become an “American Idol” semifinalist. He’s working now, says Broude, to show people they can get through it. “The only answer isn’t suicide,” she adds.

The movie is appropriate for youth ages nine and above, according to Broude, who adds that children that young have taken their own lives. It does have some strong language, but Broude says they worked hard to make the film “school appropriate.” It’s directed by Tami Pivnick.

The film focuses on verbal and cyberbullying. More than 90% of bullying cases start with verbal bullying, according to Broude, who adds that most of it can be stopped if someone intervenes assertively (rather than aggressively) within 60 seconds.

Too often, says Broude, adults model bullying for the youth around them. Parents do it. Teachers do it. Politicians do it. And TV shows are full of it. If we want to stop bullying, we’ll have to be the change. “Watch what you’re saying,” says Broude. Validate those who tell you they’ve been bullied. And step in immediately.

Broude notes that “Bullied to Silence” explores bullying “around the country and the world” — featuring youth and adults whose diversity of race, religion, sexual orientation and more represents “the full spectrum of humanity.” Bullying happens in our own back yard, but also far beyond it.

She’s hoping the film will forge a connection with those who see it, inspiring them to get involved and make a difference. Learn more at www.purplepeople.com and www.bulliedtosilence.com.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for information on the Teen Lifeline suicide hotline in Arizona and here to learn about the Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition. Phoenix screenings are being presented by GLSEN/Phoenix and the Scottdale International Film Festival.

Coming up: New plays by Arizona women

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