Life Continued: Defeating Depression

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Life Continued: Defeating Depression TV Poster Image
Affecting tales of mental illness raise awareness for teens.

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Positive Messages

The documentary presents a brutally honest picture of mental illness, illustrating through its two subjects that the disease knows no boundaries of gender, age, or race. Allowing Devin and Sarah to tell their own stories of illness and recovery leaves no room for doubting the devastating reality of this issue. Each person extols the benefits of positive relationships and honesty in helping keep them well, which should encourage other victims to seek help and confide in those closest to them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Devin and Sarah are open books about their pasts, their feelings, and their hopes (and fears) about the future. Their honesty reminds viewers that while mental illness isn't always a comfortable or familiar topic, it isn't as uncommon as we might think, and their example is proof that recovery and happiness are possible with help.

Violence

The subjects discuss their struggles with depression, which led them to self-harm and to nearly end their own lives. One overdosed on sleeping pills, which almost killed her before landing her in the hospital, where she got the help she needed to begin her recovery. She also battled anorexia and describes at length how her body suffered as a result. Another contemplated jumping off buildings to his death.

Sex

Devin recently came out to his family and friends, so the issue of sexuality is raised inasmuch as it relates to his identity as a now-openly gay man. He talks about fearing his friends' reactions and his hopes to start dating, for instance, but that's it.

Language

Rarely "hell" and "screw you."

Consumerism

Viewers are encouraged to visit the Half of Us website for information about battling depression, and a suicide-prevention hotline number is shown on the screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One scene shows a group of college students drinking beer and then heading out to a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life Continued: Defeating Depression is an intense, firsthand documentary about two twentysomethings' struggles with depression, self-harm, and attempted suicide. Theirs are very emotional journeys not for the faint of heart or for anyone too immature to grasp the context of their stories and the concept of mental illness in general. One subject discusses at length her attempted overdose after years of anorexia and anxiety; the other talks about hiding his homosexuality out of fear of people's reactions and the progressive emotional turmoil that nearly led him to end his life. That said, the movie's message is one of hope, and both subjects share details of their ongoing recovery including the importance of having a strong support system, the value of positive self-esteem, and reminders that, no matter the cause of mental illness, there's always hope to be found in opening up to someone and getting help. Viewers are encouraged to visit an awareness website for more information about battling depression, and the show flashes a hotline phone number for immediate access to help for anyone who's suffering from the disease.

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What's the story?

In LIFE CONTINUED: DEFEATING DEPRESSION, two college students open up about their longtime battles with mental illness and suicidal tendencies. There's Devin, a college senior and competitive athlete who's harbored the secret of his homosexuality for years out of fear of people's reactions. Eventually the pressures led him to consider suicide to end the hopelessness he felt. Meanwhile Sarah struggled with self-esteem issues that led to anorexia and anxiety, which culminated in a nearly successful attempted overdose. Both are on paths to recovery, thanks to professional intervention and strong support systems, and they share their stories in the hopes that other victims will seek the help they need to overcome the illness as well.

Is it any good?

It is estimated that about half of all college students have experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness at some point, and this is the obvious target demographic for Life Continued: Defeating Depression. But even though it deals with some very heavy issues, its message is essential for younger teens, too, provided they understand the gravity of what's being discussed. The best way to ensure that they get the right message is to watch the documentary with them and talk about it when it's done. Not only will you be able to reinforce what your teens are seeing, but you'll also get some insight into possible indicators of mental illness from the subjects' accounts.

Depression is a tough issue, and it's one that often gets pushed down the mental checklist as parents get caught up in seemingly more pressing concerns for their teens' safety. But Sarah and Devin's stories prove that it can be a silent killer or, at the very least, a devastating force in teens' lives. The best weapon against its power is awareness -– for both teens and their parents -– and Life Continued is an excellent tool in that arsenal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how mental illness is perceived in society. Do conditions like depression, anxiety, and anorexia get the same level of respect in popular opinion as do ones like cancer and heart disease? Is there a stigma attached to them? Why? What can be done to combat this stereotype?

  • A recurring theme in this movie is the importance of having a strong support system. Why is this essential for happiness in general? Teens: Do you ever feel like you have to look or act a certain way among your friends? What level of pressure does this put on you?

  • This movie touches on a number of issues that you can discuss with your teens including self-image and prejudice. Where do we get messages (either positive or negative) about body image and appearance? Are they always attainable? How does it affect us when we can't achieve them? What are the dangers of making snap judgments about a person by his appearance?

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