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How 'A Star Is Born' Affected Me as a Suicide Attempt Survivor

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

This post contains spoilers for “A Star Is Born.”

I’ve wanted to watch “A Star is Born” since it came out. I don’t watch movies alone, and I knew this one wasn’t a movie I wanted to see alone. This is only the second R-rated movie I have ever seen and wanting to prepare myself mentally, I searched for the movie storyline. I found a spoiler that proved to be really crucial to how I tried to prepare for the movie.

I knew that at some point, the main character, Jack, would die by suicide. I knew he was addicted to drugs and alcohol and he was madly in love with an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, Ally. This movie taught me a lot about the power of finding love and caring and loving someone through their worst. Yet it also showed me how much my own suicide attempts and clear visualizations of my death have profoundly affected me.

Here’s a few things I came away with from this movie, which I was fortunate enough to watch with my best friend, who held my arm and let me cry on his shoulder when the inevitable scene came near the end of the movie.

1. The power of love.

It is something wonderful and amazing, and when it is mutual between two lovers, it can have the power to move mountains and survive even the worst. The strength of Ally to continue on despite her husband’s addiction — the power she has to forgive despite all the things he does and hurtful things he says to her while intoxicated — is inspiring and amazing. I watched this with my best friend, whom I’m also truly, deeply in love with but not in a romantic relationship with, and while I wanted to imagine myself and him in a loving relationship like Ally and Jack’s, I was also captivated by the on-screen couple’s relationship.

2. Addiction is hard for families and lovers and friends alike.

Throughout the movie, Jack is consumed by alcohol and prescription drugs. He is relying heavily on his drugs to keep him going, yet as he meets Ally, he begins to turn his life around. Yes, he slips up, but he still continues on and finds ways to stay sober for two, three, four days at a time. This is important to me because I am an addict. I struggle with a different form of addiction: self-harm. I have done it for 12 years and finally, maybe two, three weeks ago, I stopped because I gave my best friend all the new self-harm tools I bought for myself. I have wanted to self-harm, don’t get me wrong, but just last week, when I found a hidden box of tools in my finally unpacked boxes from my move over 6 months ago, it took all the courage to bring it to him and hand them over. He’s a big part of why I want to give up my addiction because he sees my scars and feels my pain; he hurts seeing me hurting.

3. Suicide is really, really difficult to talk about, let alone watch on screen.

Jack reveals that he tried to take his own life when he was 13. He details what he did and how his father didn’t find him. This is when I started to cry. I’ve had this exact vision of myself. At this time, my best friend grabbed my arm and started to squeeze it. I breathed slowly, took deep breaths, and tried to hold back the tears. At one point, I Googled the movie timeline, to figure out when the actual event would occur, so I could prepare myself for this dreaded moment in the movie. I knew it was going to happen about two hours in but because I wasn’t sure when the movie started exactly, I couldn’t time it.

As I started to hear Jack drop references I have personally dropped to friends myself — “I just want to look at you one last time” was the hardest one to hear, something Jack says to Ally and something I’ve written in a letter to my best friend — I knew the moment was coming. As he got into his truck to pull out of the driveway, he stops, steps out of the truck, and grabs the dreaded weapon. I about lost it. I couldn’t look as the scene cut away from him standing at a doorway of some sorts and even when they didn’t show it, I knew what happened. I sobbed quietly. I cried into my best friend’s shoulder. He cradled my face and held my arm. He whispered to me, “remember, this is a movie.” It is a movie but it also is real life for me.

Sometimes, I just want to go one day without feeling like I want to die, that I want to take my own life because I am not worthy of life or deserving of love. Yet, somehow, I am really glad I watched this movie because it gave my best friend a chance to remind me, as he parted ways with me for the afternoon after dropping me off, that at the end of the movie, nobody is happy and everyone hurts after Jack took his own life. He reminded me that’s what would happen if I did and I just held on to him a bit tighter.

I’m so thankful I’ve found someone who has taken the time, made the effort, and spent the energy to catch me when I fall, when I become suicidal and don’t see a way out. I’m thankful and grateful and know our lives crossed paths for a reason. I may not know why but I know I have a friend for life in the one I love with my whole heart.

I encourage you to watch this movie only if you know you can be supported — fully supported emotionally and mentally and physically — by a close friend or family member. It’s wonderful, it’s amazing, and it brings to light something we all need to talk about more.


Originally published: December 1, 2018
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