With the recent news of Robin Williams’ tragic death, the subject of suicide and related mental illnesses is more important than ever. A subject that is still very taboo in many places around the world, suicide is something we avoid talking about, or even acknowledging. World Suicide Prevention Day falls on the 10th of September and Davin, an independent Irish feature film by director Graham Jones (The Randomers) was made in a bid to open up a dialogue in Ireland (and indeed across the globe) about the impact of suicide, and to encourage people to seek help.
The film was uploaded to Youtube to stream for free on Friday the 8th of August in the lead up to this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day and has since been viewed over 38,000 times. Jones said that one of his films key messages that “most of the time it’s people who acted perfect who are under the most mental pressure” is now more important than ever to take on board in the wake of Robin Williams’ death.
Davin is an experimental rotoscoped feature film that follows the various family members of a boy called Davin on their way to his memorial service after ending his own life. It’s a highly powerful piece that aims to show the impact that a persons suicide can have on wider society, and to encourage sufferers of mental illnesses such as depression to get they help they need. Although Davin is an Irish film aiming to open up a dialogue about suicide in a country where the topic is still taboo, with over 400 people dying by suicide every year, it is something that everyone, wherever they are in the world, should think about and take on board and it is more relevant now after this week’s shock events than ever before.
40 year old Dún Laoghaire native Jones said of his latest project “The character Davin is fictional, but suicide has touched my life and most people’s lives either directly or indirectly,”
“One of the actors who worked on the film, who is from a rural county I won’t name, said he was personally aware of 26 people he knows through friends or family who have died this way.
“Often after a particular awareness campaign or date, the issue goes away a bit and we all just get on with our lives… [but] people can be more inclined to connect with a character than with cold, hard facts.”
“What happened to Robin Williams was a shock to me as much as to everyone else. Saying he died by suicide is something I never thought I’d say. But it shows that suicide does not just happen to certain people, it’s not confined,”
The haunting rotoscoped style that Jones has said was designed to be “Somewhere between hand-drawn animation and rotoscoping and disintegrating streams of energy consciousness. That place we inhabit at times of birth or death. When we realise that we are part of something larger, yet something transient.” gives it this quirky, hyperreal feel but forces you to focus more on the words and the emotion, delivering Jones’ messages about suicide and its impact on society beautifully. More of Graham Jones’ interview in which he explains his thinking behind this moving film can be found on Film Ireland.
With World Suicide Prevention Day fast approaching, and with the tragic recent news still fresh in all our minds, it’d do us well to start opening our eyes to the real impact of depression and other mental illnesses. This film beautifully demonstrates this impact, reminding us that the struggle is very real, and suicide is not something to be taken lightly. Davin is a brilliant marker for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day and is well worth checking out.