The Mighty Logo

New MTV Documentary 'Each and Every Day' Gets Honest About Hope After a Suicide Attempt

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

A new documentary set to air on MTV takes viewers inside the world of nine young people who have survived a suicide attempt or experienced suicidal ideation — and their journey toward recovery.

Made in collaboration with the JED Foundation, “Each and Every Day” follows nine young people from across the United States. In the documentary, they share their mental health journey from a suicide attempt or having suicidal thoughts to where they are now and what helped them along the way. Each participant comes from a different background but their stories all have one thing in common — hope is possible.

Together, the participants’ struggles with their mental health reflects the experiences of thousands of other young people who may be struggling. An August 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found an estimated 25% of young adults considered suicide during the pandemic. Suicide prevention is important at any time, and the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened mental health concerns.

According to the JED Foundation, which focuses on teens and young adults, talking openly about suicide is a powerful prevention tool. Every person featured in “Each and Every Day” shared their journey openly. “Starting the conversation is the best prevention method to help young people seek help, know they are not alone, nor do they have to suffer in silence,” JED Foundation co-founder Donna Satow told The Mighty.

Filmmaker Alexandra Shiva helmed the one-hour documentary alongside executive producer Sheila Nevins and JED Foundation co-founders Donna and Phil Satow. While the MTV Documentary Films project was initially supposed to be filmed in person, “Each and Every Day” was recorded remotely during COVID-19. It airs on MTV commercial-free on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

To learn more about “Each and Every Day,” including why it’s important and how it can impact viewers, The Mighty spoke with Shiva, the Satows and JED Foundation Senior Advisor Janis Whitlock, Ph.D.

Here’s what they shared with us: 

Why is now in particular such an important time to create ‘Each and Every Day’?

Janis Whitlock: Rates of mental health challenges for young people have been increasing and are sobering, even more so obviously in the COVID era. I can’t imagine a more pertinent time for a documentary like this. To have it be told through the voices of young people who are sharing their stories, many of whom are spending lots of time in isolation, is just incredibly powerful.

Donna Satow: This is a particularly urgent time to do this. We are seeing a spike in young people facing difficult challenges. Some young people will face them easily and some young people might have difficulty. Something that they can watch and relate to is a wonderful beginning to help young people speak up. I think this film is really groundbreaking in a lot of ways.

How did you identify the nine people who participated in the documentary?

Alexandra Shiva: We spoke to a lot of people. We wanted to make sure whoever we spoke to, and whoever ended up in the film was strong enough — it was going to be healthy for them to participate, but also that they were able to walk someone through their process and that they had created a lot of reasons to have a life worth living. They were living in recovery, but they had a lot of wisdom about what they had been through.

It was very important that there was an enormous amount of diversity in the group. It was really important to us that when someone turned on the show, they’re able to see parts of themselves. Many of their stories also touched on the trauma of racism. That was something that was really important to hear. Racism and inequality are also mental health issues.

What was the thought process behind how you structured each participants’ story?

Shiva: The goal is to actually show that someone can come out of it and emphasize what works for people. So making sure that journaling and therapy and medication and fitness and getting enough sleep and faith. A lot of films that are talking about the subject go with the drama. What you want to go with is the recovery.

I loved working with these nine people. They were incredible, incredibly brave and courageous and honest and open participants. They all felt very strongly about wanting to give back to other people, wanting to say the things that they had wished they heard when they were going through the darkest of their time.

Why is media such a powerful tool for sharing suicide prevention messages?

Whitlock: Media has always played an important role in shaping perception and understanding. I think that’s probably never been more true than today because multimedia is just what everybody’s immersed in from when they wake up in the morning. That’s one piece. The other is that it’s become so accessible.

The fact that these young people were so candid and authentic, so willing and able to share so much of their own journey, makes it especially effective and accessible. In terms of the way that it was filmed, there were great pains taken to be sure that they were rendering the stories of these young people in ways that both told the full arc of the story but also really focused on the turning points and recovery.

How can the documentary help parents better understand their kids’ experience?

Phil Satow: Suicide is the sort of thing people don’t want to think about. They academically may realize that it’s a problem in this country but it’s an awful thought. And certainly, they don’t want to think it has anything to do with their family.

When you talk to parents, unless they have a child who has a serious illness that’s been diagnosed, they most often are saying, “Yes, it’s important, but it’s really not for me. It’s for other families.” This film shows that this could be anybody — parents have to be very serious about these issues that they’re seeing in their kids.

What do you hope those watching will take away from ‘Each and Every Day’?

Shiva: I hope people see that thoughts of suicide can be common, and that we have to talk about it. To have a young person watching and then have that reflected back at them, I’m hoping that many people see this and feel less alone, that they feel heard, even though they weren’t the one speaking.

Donna Satow: This film is unique in its authenticity and in its power. It speaks so directly to what young people need to hear from their peers, the same age group. I sadly lost our son to suicide, and for the last 20 years, that’s what we’ve been working on. So I am beyond thrilled to see that a film like this is going to reach all these young people.

Whitlock: Don’t give up, take heart and know that you’re not alone. You can reach out to people who really, truly can understand. One of the things that so clearly comes out of this array of stories, because there were so many different stories, is that as each one of those young people were living through their journey, there were definitely moments where they felt very alone.

It’s so clear that every one of them at some point made the decision that they wanted to live and to allow in help and support. That support piece, that turning point, requires both the desire to be supported and an allowing of those around us who love us to support. They lived through those moments, so know that you can live through those moments.

Tune in to watch “Each and Every Day” on MTV commercial-free on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 

(Editor’s note: Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Header image via MTV/YouTube

Originally published: February 16, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home