On June 19, 2014, our dear friend Ryan Joseph Candice took his own life; just two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
Ryan was one of the most warm-hearted, welcoming guys. His inclusiveness made him immensely popular on campus, and his kindness made you feel lucky to call him a friend. He was the life of the party; everyone's best friend. As an international business major at the University of Missouri, he was smart, well respected, and determined. He had an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Ryan was the last person that anyone would expect to die by suicide. No one saw it coming.
A man who seemingly had it all, Ryan exemplifies the fact that mental illness does not discriminate and you never know what battles people may secretly be fighting. The stigma keeps so many from reaching out for the help they desperately need.
Unfortunately, Ryan is one of MANY.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-24. It has become increasingly prevalent on college campus due in part to inadequate mental health resources, lack of mental health awareness, and the stigma surrounding mental illness that keeps so many from seeking help.
Suicide, and mental illnesses are topics that no one wants to talk about... But everyone needs to talk about.
IT'S TIME TO START THE CONVERSATION.
In September of 2014, three months after Ryan died, we decided to try and turn the tragic situation around into a positive, inspiring one. We dreamt of making a documentary film that would not only ensure that the memory of Ryan would never fade, but would also actively encourage awareness and prevention of suicide by exploring and exposing the inadequacies in the way mental health is talked about, funded, and legislated.
A group of over 20 of Ryan's closest friends, family, and students at the University of Missouri came together and began working diligently; planning out every step and researching every appropriate move to make a documentary film that addresses the stigma surrounding mental illness and the growing suicide epidemic in the United States.
To date we are a federally recognized 501(c)3 that has raised over $150,000 towards the production of our documentary. We hope to begin filming in Winter 2017.
OUR ORIGINAL PROMO
In November 2014, we launched our first crowdfunding campaign paired with the PSA video below. Having no clue of the massive costs of a Hollywood level film production, we set our goal at $10,000. We hit that goal overnight. The video was viewed over 10,000 times and helped us gain the momentum we needed to become a 501c3. Please check out where it all began by viewing the short PSA below!
Phase 1: The Documentary
Project Wake Up is a 501(c)3 non profit organization aiming to bring awareness of the growing suicide epidemic. Our goal is to encourage people to destigmatize mental illness and start a dialoge so that people feel comfortable reaching out for help.
Our main goal is to produce a documentary film that will use Ryan's story, and others, to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. We hope to expose the inadequacies in mental health funding, treatment, and public perception.
The film will highlight and illustrate important suicide awareness and prevention methods. We are going to interview psychologists, mental health experts, sociologists, politicians, and leaders of suicide prevention organizations in order to create a diverse, effective and informative panel of experts for the film.