Animated series ‘My Life is Worth Living’ to address suicide prevention among teens

The Cook Center for Human Connection announced the launch of My Life is Worth Living, the first animated series for teens to address suicide prevention. The series is produced by the Cook Center, a Utah-based non-profit dedicated to eradicating suicide and advocating for mental health and wellness, in partnership with Wonder Media.

The series follows five animated characters where all of them suffer from issues like suicide ideation, bullying, sexual identity, sexual abuse, fear of being ostracized socially, depression and substance abuse. One character, for instance, is a suicide survivor trying to re-adjust. Another was injured in a fire and feels like a burden. The characters also have a persistent critical inner voice telling them they are less than they should be and they don’t matter.

According to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of suicide among those aged 10 to 24 increased nearly 60 per cent between 2007 and 2018. A 2020 survey conducted by the CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 40 per cent of people were struggling with a mental health issue, with young people and racial/ethnic minorities most at risk.

“These are problems we can all relate to,” said Wonder Media founder Terry Thoren. He believes that animation is perfect for carrying a lifesaving message to youths who struggle and those who care about them and could intervene. “Animation knows no borders, no race, no religion or culture. Kids are open to animation. But suicide doesn’t know any borders, either. We know this is an international language that we’re speaking: cartoons,” Thoren added. “We have great voice actors, great character design, great music — and we’re using all the conventions that will lead a teenager into the story and they won’t click away.”

The timing couldn’t be more crucial, according to Cook Center for Human Connection president and CEO Anne Brown. “The goal of each story arc is to convey the message that there are people who care, and also to show potential helpers what they should do when they’re confronted with someone who is struggling with suicide and suicidal thoughts,” said Brown. While the animation is designed for those 13 to 24, she said, “We would love to have families start watching these together and begin a conversation.”

Can a group of animated characters dealing with some of the heaviest issues that young people face help real-life sufferers reclaim joy and choose life? Well, the answer is yes. Animation as a medium helps address and talk about issues which sometimes gets difficult to portray in live-action format.

My Life is Worth Living will have five powerful, diverse stories told over 20 episodes. All episodes will be available on YouTube starting 18 August. Every episode will be translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish.