2001, 52 Minutes
Australia has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world. The suicide rate in men under 25 has tripled in the last 30 years, and young men in rural and remote communities are particularly vulnerable. This reality has disturbing implications for society. When it affects you directly, it's shattering. In this very personal film, director Jessica Douglas-Henry and her sister Alix explore the impact of their brother’s suicide.
In 1996 James Dalmann killed himself. He was found dead in the bathroom of his housing commission unit in Geraldton, Western Australia. James was only twenty.
Although this film is about James, it's really Alix's story. It's about the people left behind, whose lives have been changed forever by the suicide of someone they loved.
Alix was the person closest to James. She was 17 when he died and was left with the responsibility of identifying his body. In the three years that followed, five other friends died by suicide. Her way of coming to terms with the loss has been to get on with her own life and to try to make a difference for other young people by doing voluntary work for a suicide prevention organisation. Alix still doesn' t sleep at night. She feels guilty about the warning signs she missed, about what she did and didn't do. Yet she doesn' t want to let go of her sadness - it's all she has left of James. Retelling the story is one way to reconcile what has happened. It's a difficult but necessary journey, and in the end, a life-affirming one.
Although Our Brother James focuses on a personal tragedy, it is ultimately a film about survival and growth, about love, strength and hope for the future.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Iris Pictures Pty Ltd. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director/Writer: Jessica Douglas-Henry
Running Time: 52 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Professional development for mental health and social workers; Child protection; Counselling services/pastoral care; Health; Communication and Personal Development. Levels: senior secondary, tertiary and professional development
"This is a film which is told with such simplicity and integrity that the effect is quite extraordinary. Films about suicide are hard to make because the loss is often so overwhelming it can be impossible to move beyond that, but through an openness and sensitivity on the part of the director this film succeeds and, by the end, becomes a hymn of love." - Anne Deveson.
"Stories such as this can be powerful ways of moving community attitudes towards an understanding of mental health, social and mental well-being, and the risks and protective factors in the lives of young people." - Professor Ian Webster AO, Chair of the National Advisory Council for Youth Suicide Prevention.