40 seconds of hope against suicide

40 seconds of hope against suicide

- in Feature
@Jon Joaquin

Every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll is a staggering 800,000 per year; in fact, suicide was the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally in 2012.

The WHO also says one of the biggest risk factors is depression, and this is what 21-year-old digital artist Vince Serrano aims to address. In an animated digital video titled “Companion,” he tells the story of a lonely boy who almost succumbs to the lure of death — but receives a second chance at life from a beacon of hope.

The young animator‘s short video bested 20 other entries in the “Hope in 40 Seconds” video competition launched in June by the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing depression to light.

The awarding ceremonies were held on October 6 in observance of the National Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Although I heard a lot of suicide cases when I was still in college, I didn’t put much thought to them until I decided to take on the challenge of doing an animation for NGF. I had to research about mental health and that was when I realized that it is actually a hidden epidemic, a real issue which needs our attention. This further inspired me to do my best so that in my own little way, I would be able to help other people,” Serrano said.

The competition encouraged those suffering from depression as well as their loved ones to seek guidance from HOPELINE, NGF’s free 24/7 suicide hotline which can be reached via the following numbers:  804-HOPE (4673), 0917-558HOPE (4673), and 2919 (toll free for TM and Globe).

“We received a number of exceptional submissions but ‘Companion’ stood out among them with its very clear message of desperation and hope. Through this video which will be distributed via social media and select Ayala Cinemas, we are confident that we can reach out to more people and provide proper intervention to those who need assistance,” NGF president Jean Goulbourn said.

The campaign is being supported by Globe Telecom, the Department of Health, and the UP JMA, a university-wide student organization which adopted the campaign as an organization project called SPARK: The Movement to promote healthy lifestyle and to spread hope among the country’s youth.

Companion not only bagged the grand prize but was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award.  Its closest competitors are Catch of Hope created by Chih-Chiang “Jason” Wei:

and Heartless by Noel Manao:

Catch of Hope talks about the loss of what a young man believed to be everything to him, prompting him to jump from a bridge.  Seconds before his death, he gets caught by the unexpected. On the other hand, Heartless is about the potential of a person to be emotionally whole again despite having been trapped in a dark corner of his mind.  It aims to encourage the path to self-discovery and recovery with the help of HOPELINE.

The entries were chosen based on the following criteria:  Originality (15%),  Storyline/Concept (20%), Relevance to the Theme (15%); Technical Skills (15%); Creativity (15%),  Visual Impact (20%).

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