The Story Behind 'Brothers' This is a film about a family who have faced incredible adversity but continue to push forward. It centers around Mike, an artist and filmmaker, wheelchair bound with Muscular Dystrophy and only the use of two fingers, who is grappling with the recent loss of his brother and daily caregiver. Mike's younger brother, JT, the athletic, charismatic and once potential pro-skateboarder, took his own life after years of deepening schizophrenia. We learn what it takes to be a parent and a brother with overwhelming grief and yet we see how love and creativity give the family the strength to carry on.
The Impact We suffered the unimaginable loss of our family member, John JT Norton, by suicide at the age of 27 just days before Christmas 2016. Our story is unfortunately all too familiar for many families who suffer in silence trying to care for their loved ones with mental illness. Out of respect for our family members, we are silent during the crises we face every day. That same respect compelled us to share JT's story after he passed. The average life of someone with schizophrenia is 25 years shorter than an average person and 1 in 5 adults in the US live with a mental illness of some kind. Even if you don't personally struggle with mental illness, odds are you know someone who does.
We have been guided by what JT would have wanted and that was to always reach out to help others. This was something our family always tried to do. We believe our society needs to be tolerant of people of all abilities and differences.
After JT's death, Mike's idea for a documentary materialized. He wanted to show John as a person first and his illness second - he was a talented skateboarder, a lover of nature, and a loyal friend.
Our vision is to present JT’s story because we believe it has the capacity to impact and help many people. It will bring awareness and help start a conversation about how we care for people with mental illness. This film will help others who cannot speak out about their struggles, whether they are homeless, incarcerated or hospitalized. It will help the families of those struggling with mental illness, who often feel alone and suffer in silence. It will help employers and vocational rehab groups as well as the medical professionals who care for people like JT. It will help kids understand how some of their friends may be struggling. This film will be a tool for anyone who is touched by mental illness.
This film offers a glimpse into the lives of two brothers and how they survived day to day trying to care for their own needs while also caring for each other. With your help, whether that means donating or helping us share this film with friends, we want our story to spread.
We all need to try to persevere and commit to help others within our communities - we believe it is our obligation to do so. JT’s dream was to have a team of medical professionals who were proactive in caring for him, much like he was for his brother, Mike. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with mental illness care. By sharing JT’s story and his dream, we can help others grappling with these same issues.
This is a story of resilience and love. If JT’s story can help even one person like him, that will be a success. Thank you for being a member of our community. With your help, this film will become a reality.