“Telling your story can save lives, but only if you share it safely. Sharing your story lets
people know they are not alone and shows them recovery is possible. If done safely,
your story will encourage people at risk to seek help.” – Americans Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The original potential suicide note by Williams was written out of honest angst, and the show My Suicide Note was crafted to focus primarily on honesty and humor. However, My Suicide Note adheres to the suggestions from Americans Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the following ways:
Be at a safe place in your recovery.
Depression is never just “fixed”. But the show was processed and written in advance. All emotions although being felt and shared with an audience are not damaging the performer as he expresses them.
My Suicide Note was built and perfected piece by piece, and in as healthy of a way as possible, in front of over 100 audiences, in over half a dozen countries. Over 45 drafts written and refined over more than a year became the final show that has progressed into the sold-out, hit dark stand-up comedy.
Know your audience.
My Suicide Note isn’t a show you’ll see at a random weekend night at a comedy club–it is important to make sure that everyone at the show knows what it is about. Many people show up to weekend comedy club shows not knowing what the show about, or even the name of the performer. My Suicide Note works at great expense and effort to make sure audiences are educated in advance. My Suicide Note even reaches out to all local media beforehand, offering hours of time for in-depth interviews to make sure every audience member can have extensive information about the show.
Many articles are also linked on this site! For information and previous articles see here
Be honest and comprehensive.
Depending on the venue and available time slot, My Suicide Note has a run time of between 60-90 minutes. No mental illness, life situation, or persons’ experience can be completely covered in just a couple hours. My Suicide Note works to explain Williams’ personal life experience, and covers an extensive amount of material with an astounding level of brutal honesty, given the time frame. One of Williams’ goals with his original note, written prior to creation of the show, was specifically to illustrate that, “to quote the show, “Suicides aren’t a caused by a just single event. They aren’t caused by a breakup, job loss or even something that would make a white chick ‘literally can’t even'”.
My Suicide Note has a goal of illustrating the complexity and difficulty of suicidal tendencies and idealization. The hope is to illustrate the intricate but genuine ideas that would lead someone to try such a drastic choice.
Provide mental health resources for your audience to
My Suicide Note has worked from its very first full show to try to help alleviate others from pains that would lead them to suicidal ideation. The official premiere My Suicide Note had 100% of the profits directed to charities that would help vulnerable groups. Since then, My Suicide Note has adopted a policy of providing take-home handouts that include resources for the suicide hotline, and the text suicide hotline for teens and others that may prefer text over phone calls. There are also plans for the new trans suicide hotline to be included on future implementations of the handout.
Don’t use phrases like “commit suicide” or
Live performances may vary, the scripting of My Suicide Note only uses one of these phrases a single time in 90 minutes. Some may reasonably wonder “Why not just make it zero times?”. The short answer is “The show isn’t perfect.” To reference the topic multiple times in 90 minutes in a varied way that audiences still quickly understand, “click with”, and relate to, there is a single instance where less psychologically desired language is used.
My Suicide Note isn’t perfect. We understand that and are always trying to figure out better ways to improve both the wording and the humor. But an effort is also made to not repeatedly hammer in verbiage that would be harmful. If you have seen the show in its entirety and have a suggestion on improvement please feel free to use any of the contact methods.
Avoid details about suicide methods.
Here is possibly one of the shows greatest AFSP “failures”. Only about 5 of the 90 minutes of My Suicide Note cover some details on suicide attempts, but that may be more than some mental health professionals may be comfortable with. Comedy often comes from poking fun at the absurd. And in retrospect, Williams’ found several of his thoughts in regards to suicide to be quite absurd and points them out as such. The show avoids graphic, gory, or glorifying description. But, it is still reasonable to warn anyone whose preferred method of emotional healing isn’t humor, or who have had recent suicide-related trauma. My Suicide Note may not be the correct comedy fit for them.
We would highly recommend listening to work by Jackie Kashian, Mitch Hedberg, John Mulaney, Nikki Glaser, or Todd Johnson for a different comedic therapeutic experience.
Don’t simplify suicide.
Suicide is not simple. Full Stop.
The goal of “My Suicide Note” is hopefully (and as independent reviewers have agreed) to explain the complexity of suicide in a relatable and somehow humorous tone. The show has the chance to educate on every warning sign or risk factor, so anyone who sees the show will ideally feel hope themselves if they are struggling. Especially, the show explicitly avoids stigmatizing those who may feel suicidal or who died by suicide.
Don’t glorify suicide.
How do you write an entire show about suicide without glorifying it? That’s a question Williams’ had to ask himself. Not for the sake of “writing a responsible show”, but for the sake of himself. How do you have something to live for once the show is done?
His answer was having hope for himself. A hope that translated to the page and then translated to the final version of the show. The feeling of wanting to die is never the high point in the emotional roller coaster comedy of My Suicide Note. As stated before, comedy comes from pointing out the absurdity. And My Suicide Note strives to point out that, while feelings of suicidality may be human and understandable, they are not the rational or glorifiable choice.
Simply put, My Suicide Note could not exist if Williams’ was dead. And in order for anyone to accurately tell the story of their experience, they need to be alive to tell it for themselves.
Avoid portraying suicide as an option.
“Why would someone want to kill themselves… No… No.. Why would someone want to live?” – My Suicide Note
Williams’ has always seen the biggest response or applause from audiences at the point in the show he calls “the turn”. Although My Suicide Note may be a piece dedicated to explaining to those who aren’t suicidal what would make someone think to explore that path. The moments that finalize the show are the exact opposite.
My Suicide Note aims to show suicidality as a complexity, not as an option. It does its best to illustrate the desperation that leads someone to that choice–a choice that we can hopefully destigmatize so that the next time some thinks it is an option they can make the better choice of getting some professional help from the many friends and strangers that love them instead.
(In case you happen to be one of those people dealing with suicidality, I might not be available to talk to you 24/7, but I will certainly try. Here are some people who usually are available for you)
Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05
Brazil: 188 for the CVV National Association
Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)
Trans Canada: 877-330-6366
Estonia: 3726558088; in Russian 3726555688
Finland: 010 195 202
Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000
New Zealand: 0800543354
Portugal: 21 854 07 40/8 . 96 898 21 50
South Africa: 0514445691
United Kingdom: 08457909090
Trans US: 877-565-8860 / text “Connect”
Veterans’ Crisis Line: 1 800 273 8255/ text 838255