September is #suicidepreventionmonth.
Here is some background to Mary Brooks’ workshop performance devised in partnership with verd de gris arts.
It highlights the need for dialogue and understanding and the need to reduce the stigma around mental health and in particular, suicide.
“Let the memory on the vine stay sweet …
This performance originates from a personal piece of writing from my mother to my father, a few years after his death. It was written to make sense of, and preserve memory.
When I was 12 my Dad died by suicide, and given the nature of his method, my Mum decided it was better not to tell us children what had happened. She kept the truth a secret because, not only did she want to protect us from our own imaginations, but also she did not want any of us to be seen as, or to feel like, victims. My Mum felt that suicide was an ultimate taboo in our society and she didn’t want any one to judge her husband.
Central to the story is mental health. When my parents met, Dad was homeless and using heroin as his pain relief. Mum was a vulnerable 23-year-old working on the homeless circuit. They fell in love and, with the right set of circumstances and support ( social capital) he was able to find his place in the world as a functioning social worker/ drugs worker.
The monologue is about the rise and fall of one man. Despite it’s tragic ending, there is seventeen years of happy family life, and in the scale of time could be viewed as a success story.
My Mum wrote this for us kids; she wanted us to know the truth one-day. She wanted it written down in case she died before ever getting the chance to tell us the truth.
It raises the issue of why it is so hard to talk about suicide and now, as a performance, endeavours to bring the subject and discussion into the open.”