A suicide attempt left 16-year old varsity cheerleader Emma Benoit paralyzed. Still, it propelled her on a mission to use the painful experience to help others find hope and shine more light on the fact that 20 young people die every day by suicide in the United States.
My Ascension is a feature-length documentary that chronicles Emma’s inspiring journey and quest to walk again after a gunshot wound left her with a spinal cord injury. She initially was paralyzed from the chest down but has regained her ability to walk. The film tells of her struggles and breaking points throughout her time during her rehab and her newfound faith that helped her recover. Unlike most, she was given a second chance, and it shifted her perspective to see her life through a lens. It tells the story of her youth, her suicide attempt and how she has recovered and now making a difference in the lives of others by helping them to find hope. The film also chronicles Benoit’s quest to walk again as she works with HOPE SQUAD, a school-based suicide prevention program. It also highlights the stories of two remarkable young people who did not survive their attempts and the devastating effect on their families and friends.
On Wednesday, November 3, all Winn Parish Schools got the opportunity to watch the My Ascension documentary. That night, the public was invited to FBC to show the documentary. On Thursday, November 4, Emma visited each school and told her incredible story. Emma is a very down-to-earth person and can convey her experience where the youth can relate. Her main topic to the youths is that she didn’t fit the perception people have in their heads of the kind of person who would have mental health issues and attempt to take their own life. She was the “popular girl” with good grades, a varsity cheerleader, loving and supportive family, but she never told of her struggles because she didn’t want people to think she was weak. Emma’s story is an eye-opening reminder that nobody can do life alone, and it’s the unsuspecting people who are the ones crying out for help on the inside but looks perfectly normal on the outside. We all must maintain a listening ear to those around us and open our hearts to the vulnerable when needed. Always embrace the people around you and be kind to everyone as we don’t know what others might be struggling with.
The film’s director Greg Dicharry also visited the school. Greg is also the co-director of the award-winning 2018 film Suicide: The Ripple Effect. He is also the creator of the MY LIFE program, one of the nation’s leading programs for youth who experience mental health issues and substance use. In 2019 Greg received Mental Health America’s top honor, the Clifford Beers Award for his work in youth mental health. In addition, he recently received the My Life – Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment Award for creating mental health-focused film and video. Also visiting the schools were Emma’s mom Chelsey Benoit, Amanda Bailey Smith, WSHS ASIST mentor Addison Jacobsen, WPSH School nurse Kacie Smith and Mona Bourgeois and Andrea Poisso, who shared their stories of losing their sons to suicide.
Thanks to Amanda Bailey Smith and Andrea Poisso for bringing the My Ascension documentary to the community. Thank you, Winn Parish Schools, for welcoming Emma with open arms and much thanks for all the monetary donations received. This event couldn’t have been done without the community coming together.
Fundraising plans are underway after the first of the year to help raise money to implement a school program for the next school year and eventually bring the HOPE SQUAD to Winn Parish Schools.
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To bring the My Ascension documentary to your school or community, you can visit http://www.myascension.us/bring-this-film-to-your-community!