In 2009, Josh Rivedal—a professional actor and playwright based in New York City—wrote and developed the play The Gospel According to Josh, a dark comedy that focuses on Josh, a small town boy who follows his dreams to Hollywood while navigating his strict upbringing, his starring roles in two reality TV shows, and ultimately his father's suicide.
The play was originally intended for a traditional theatre-going audience, but after speaking with young audience members whose own lives had been touched by a friend or loved one who died by suicide, Josh decided to refocus the play to serve high school and college students toward youth suicide prevention. May 2011, Josh, in conjunction with the National Psychology Honor Society, Psi Chi, launched the premier of The Gospel According to Josh: Youth Suicide Prevention Program at Baruch College in New York City and then hosted a panel discussion on Youth Suicide Prevention. Featured panelists included two Baruch psychology professors, a clinical psychologist from the Baruch Counseling Center, and a staff member from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Josh also received ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) training from LivingWorks and the NY Office of Mental Health.
Since 2011, the program has been in more than fifty campuses in twenty-six U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, and has been a part of two U.S. government SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith College Campus grants.
The aim of the play and talkback is to present a real picture of depression by someone who has lived through it as well as provide a forum where we can reduce the stigma and make it acceptable to talk about mental illness, depression and suicide so that students feel comfortable seeking help for themselves or a friend when faced with depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts.
The Gospel According to Josh: Youth Suicide Prevention Program is designed to be used as an educational tool to in high schools and colleges achieve several specific goals related to suicide prevention:
• To educate young adults on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in themselves and others.
• To convey that depression and other mental illness are in fact real illnesses that respond to specific, yet varied treatments.
• To promote the acceptability in seeking out help for oneself or a friend if feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts.
• To provide information about sources of local and national professional help and how to self-refer for treatment or assist a peer in getting help.
This is a 60-90 minute, three component program:
1) A one-man Off-Broadway play The Gospel According to Josh: a 15 character, 7 song one-man show that ends with Josh’s father's tragic suicide. It's a primal piece of live-storytelling that creates an emotional connection between students and the powerful message that suicide is preventable.
2) An educational session: Where Josh highlights his own struggle with depression while in school, reviews local and national hotlines, outlines early warning signs, and talks about how he got help through college counseling and by reaching out to those closest to him.
3) A panel discussion/Q and A session: To introduce more students to your staff and/or peer counselors.
Video and all educational materials are available upon request.
CLICK HERE to ask questions or to book Josh in your school.
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