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2 St. Louis men's documentary about suicide prevention streaming now

'Project Wake Up' was born in the fall of 2014 in Columbia. A friend's unexpected suicide inspired two St. Louis college students to turn grief into change.

ST. LOUIS — National Suicide Prevention Week just came to a close. 

Every year, September is a time to remember the lives lost to suicide and the millions of people who continue to struggle daily.

It's a mission and a passion for a group of St. Louisans, who lost loved ones to suicide. 

A number of University of Missouri grads decided to turn that grief into change and make a documentary about suicide prevention. 

Now, it's streaming online.

"Project Wake Up" was born in the fall of 2014 in Columbia, Missouri. 

According to founder Alex Lindley, a friend's unexpected suicide inspired two St. Louis college students to turn grieving in silence into something that could make a difference.

"It's tough to kind of juggle the greatest times in your life with kind of being thrusted into adulthood in such a tragic way," he said.

In the early morning hours of June 20, 2014, Lindley woke up to a string of phone calls he never thought he'd receive. 

"It was a matter of can we confirm this? Is this real and an immediate feeling of just numbness and complete disbelief," he said.

Lindley's best friend Ryan Candice had taken his own life.

"He was the life of the party; he was everyone's best friend. He had the best family, the best friends. He was a guy at Mizzou who could kind of cross those barriers between fraternities and show up at every party that anyone would have, and it'd be totally normal and natural. He was the most gregarious guy out there, so when we lost him, it was a shock," he said.

The eye-opening tragedy happening just two years after another one of Lindley's friends, Carolyn, died by suicide.

For Danny Kerth, Project Wake Up president, the news of two of his friends' deaths hit him hard. 

"For me specifically, this was actually something that kind of brought back a lot of trauma from my childhood because I lost my dad to suicide when I was 9, and back then, compared to now, it was so stigmatized and it just wasn't something that you ever really talk about," he said.

Right then, the two Mizzou seniors at the time, realized they needed to step up, according to Kerth.

"This isn't okay, this isn't normal, and we need to come together to do something about it," he said.

Lindley said they were instantly joined by other students who were touched by Candice's life and the group quickly formed Project Wake Up to spread awareness about suicide prevention.

"There's some sort of powerful stigmatization going on that keeps people from reaching out and that was sort of the impetus of why we got this going in the first place," he said.

Now, according to Kerth, "Wake Up: Stories from the Frontlines of Suicide Prevention," the documentary the group has been working on for the past nine years, is streaming online.

"This film really opens the door to people realizing that the stigmas are going away and it's an uphill battle and it's not done yet, but we're doing our part in helping others get the help that they need," he said.

Kerth said the film not only highlights Candice's story, but others from around the country and it's told through the lenses of survivors, clinicians and loved ones.

"What we're hoping to do is just inspire people to go seek help if they need it," he said.

At the center of it all though, Lindley said, there's an even bigger testament on how a community can come together in the face of tragedy.

"It's a total St. Louis story and a total Mizzou story," he said.

You can stream "Wake Up: Stories from the Frontlines of Suicide Prevention" on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV and more.

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