Project Wake Up: End the Stigma
PROJECT WAKE UP
(A Federally recognized 501c3 Non Profit Organization)
Two years ago, I lost my best friend.
He was one of the most warm-hearted, welcoming guys I've ever known. His inclusiveness made him immensely popular on campus, and his kindness made you feel lucky to call him a 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.
But on June 19th, 2014, Ryan Candice took his own life; just two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
No one saw it coming. Ryan was the last person that anyone would expect to take their own life. He was the life of the party, everyone's best friend. As a man who seemingly "had it all", Ryan's story perfectly illustrates the cold hard fact that suicide does not discriminate, and that you never know what battles people may secretly be fighting.
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 get that conversation started.
In September of 2014, three months after Ryan died, I decided to try and turn the tragic situation around into a positive, inspiring one. I came up with the idea 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; especially for college-aged kids.
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.
In December, we created a PSA and launched our first crowdfunding campaign. With the help of many generous donors, we raised over $10,000 in 24 hours. Within a few months, we had raised over $25k.
With this money, we were able to hire an incredibly talented director, Nate Townsend , and a professional production team from L.A. With their help, we were able to create the documentary short (that I hope you have just viewed at the top of this page). This short serves as a tangible preview of our seriousness and the level of production you can expect for the full-length feature documentary that we hope to produce in 2016.
With our initial crowdfunding campaign, we were also able to afford legal services to help us file for 501c3 non-profit status. We are currently approved by the IRS as “Project Wake Up’. We will use our NPO to create the documentary and to continue to advocate for mental health and suicide awareness for the rest of our lives. (Currently, your donations are tax deductible in both federally and in the State of Missouri).
We Need Your Help!
We are incredibly grateful for the initial contributions to our mission, however, the money raised form our first campaign is just a drop in the bucket.
After much consultation from professional film makers, we have found that we need to raise at least $100,000 in order to create and distribute a documentary that has high level production value and quality. We believe that the only way this film will reach the masses we intend for it to, is if we produce it at the highest level realistically possible. Upon completion, we intend to show the full length documentary at colleges and universities across the nation, as well as at film festivals and mental health conventions. Bottom line: We want as many people as possible to see the film.
*** With your support, in 2017 we will present a compelling feature length film that will help us all learn to be more aware, more involved, and more effective in the prevention of suicide. ***
What your donations will go toward:
-501c3 staff payment
-Travel costs to interview experts (psychologists, sociologists, physicians, etc.)
-Travel to college campuses
-Travel to mental health conventions
-Festival submission fees
-Festival travel fees
Goals of Project Wake Up:
*Investigate and fix current inadequacies in mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially on college campuses.
*Start the conversation about mental health and suicide in order to help alleviate the stigma that prevents so many from seeking the help they need.
*Educate on the most common suicidal warning signs for college aged people.
*Highlight and illustrate important and innovative suicide prevention methods.
*Encourage changes in legislation that pertain to mental health.
*Document the grieving processes of those closest to Ryan, and use him and his story to inspire hope and change.
*Keep Ryan Joseph Candice's memory alive.
Risks & Challenges
Our biggest challenge is funding. But with your help, we can bring this project to fruition. Whether you donate five dollars or five thousand dollars, we will use your money to create a film that WILL save lives.
There are currently many documentaries and many being made that pertain to suicide awareness. Our documentary sets itself apart in a number of ways. We are a group of college students trying to bring change to college campuses. We have insight into college campuses and college-aged kids that many others do not. Our director is young and will present a film that college-aged kids actually want to watch. This will not be your stereotypical educational documentary that people are forced to watch or one that collects dust in a psychologist's office. This documentary will be emotional, relatable, visually captivating, and incredibly powerful. We will settle for nothing less.
Our passion is real. Our story is powerful. The cause is incredibly important.
Other Ways You Can Help
There are many ways you can help make this project possible without donating a dollar.
-Enlist a mental health/suicide prevention organization to sponsor us!
-SPREAD THE WORD! After all, a primary objective of our project is to spread awareness and start the conversation.
-Spread the word some more. Share this on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. Contact the media. Email your family and friends. Call your mom. Text your third cousin. Spread the word.
We need you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to view our page. We are extremely passionate about this cause and we truly believe we can make a difference and save lives. Please donate. Please spread the word and remember:
You are never alone.
KSDK Feature by Art Holliday
John & Kane Show
St. Louis donors, please consider joining us for our first Comedy Night fundraiser Saturday November 24th!
This event features several hilarious local comedians including Y98's Tim Convy and is headlined by the Sklar Brothers. Tickets range from $20-50 and can be purchased by visiting projectwakeup.tix.com
It will be a hilarious night and all proceeds will go towards our documentary's post-production costs. Speaking of the doc: After teaming up with an incredibly talented L.A.-based production company, we are nearly finished with principal filming and will move into the post-production phase by year's end. We have filmed several of the nation's leading experts on mental health and suicide as well as U.S. Congressmen Joe Kennedy III and Tim Murphy (just to name a few). We still have some powerful stories to film over the next couple months but we expect our film to be released in May 2019.
Thank you so much for your continued support, none of this would be possible without your generosity.
See you 11/24 at Comedy!
Thanks to the incredible generosity of a crowd of nearly 700 people, we were able to raise $67,000 at our second annual trivia night & silent auction earlier this month!
We also released our new PSA 'Wounds' directed by Nate Townsend, who will also be directing our upcoming documentary. Please take a second to watch and share the spot.
We will continue fundraising throughout the summer and fall and plan to begin production of the documentary in November/December.
Thank you all for your continued support.
-The Project Wake Up Team
Through their "Smile" program, Amazon will donate a small portion of each sale directly to a 501(c)3 of the buyer's choice.
Anytime you buy something on Amazon:
1. Enter smile.amazon.com into the URL (regular amazon.com will not apply donation) before you shop.
2. Choose Project Wake Up to benefit from proceeds
3. Amazon donates 0.5% of your sale directly to PWU!
Please remember us next time you do some online shopping!
As we near the dawn of 2017 we are excited to provide you with a year end Wake-Update video as we close in on our fundraising goal. We have truly come a long way.
We're less than $50k away from our goal. We are very confident that we will eclipse that goal in the coming months and begin production of the documentary in mid-late 2017!
Please share this link and if you can, please consider donating to help us reach our fundraising goal- now two years in the making.
Thank you all for your continued support and have a very happy holiday season.
Project Wake Up
I've been trying to End The Stigma associated with mental illness and suicide since high school. Stumbled upon this page from one of my sorority sisters face books and wanted to give you good vibes. I JUST made a video that was shown through out the middle schools and high schools in St. Joseph, MO so I know the process. Your words will effect more than you know! I know my video has and still works through our End The Stigma facebook page. Feel free to ask questions or check out our facebook page if you need any help. I'm a huge advocate and suicide survivor, so this subject is very near and deaf to my heart. I am on multiple boards and am the main speaker for mental health awareness day in my hometown. You will make a difference!
What you are doing is so admirable. I would encourage you to check out Project 22 ( http://medicinalmissions.com/project-22 ) who just completed their own film and premiered it a few weeks back. If you are not familiar with it, they documented the tragedy of suicide in vets returning from service. I saw several interviews with the two vets who directed it and raised the money for it. It may be a symbiotic relationship for the two groups and they may be willing to give you guidance. I don't know them but they just seemed like really great guys. I wish you the best in your project.
You should have an area on your site where people can post a picture of their loved ones that they have lost to suicide and give a donation in their name. I am sure it would be very popular and you would collect a lot of money. As suicide leaves people feeling so helpless and wanting to do something for their loved one and they could be a special part of this movement.
Proud to be a part of the network that help bring this campaign to life. The video touched my heart and your efforts are needed. mental illness is #real #savealife
I wish you the best of luck in getting your funding. You are RIGHT about mental illness being a stigma. Our 15 year old daughter has been in and out of the hospital for over a year because of suicide attempts and ideas on how to do it. She is now in residential treatment. We have lived in fear and under a great deal of stress every since the first attempt she made. She too is everyone's friend, well liked and no one could believe she was so depressed. People do not want to talk a bout mental health problems but they are just like having cancer, aids, etc. It is a disease just like anything else wrong with the body. The ONLY way to remove the stigma is to make our population aware of the many people who need help and who would rather die than get it because they are afraid of what others may think. Yes lets change the stigma and get this problem in the open where it belongs.
I met Ryan's father at a gym where I worked. I could see the devastation in his eyes as he spoke about his son with me. I told him I could not even begin to imagine what he was feeling , losing your child this way has to be like living in your worst nightmare knowing you can never wake up. I pray one day his family can find some kind of peace. What you are doing will surely help his family, friends, and many other people who are struggling through this tragic experience. Mental illness is something many people do not understand or want to talk about, hopefully your film will help them overcome this. I will pass this information along and wish you the best with your documentary.
I lost my 29 year old son to suicide on September 16, 2012. Since then, I have become passionate about spreading suicide awareness. I wish I could afford to help you in this endeavor, but being out of work for almost 2-years after Matthew's death devastated us financially. I think what you are doing is admirable and heroic. I will share this on my wall and hopefully it will garner some donations. Best of luck to you on this!
I want to start by saying that I stumbled upon this and that I find this to be an amazing thing you're all doing. I also wanted to comment on behalf of the people you're wanting to raise awareness for. I feel it might be extremely insightful to learn from those who fight these urges on almost a daily basis. I know that part wouldnt be easy but it would give you a whole different level of understanding what it means to live with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. Again, I commend you all for doing this. It very much is a taboo subject.
We encourage you to tag us in a photo on Facebook of those you have lost and share a memory. Help to spread the word, raise awareness, and SAVE LIVES! #YouAreNotAlone
I lost my beautiful 17 year old daughter on 5/5/14. She was a high achiever academically, played two sports (soccer and field hockey), was a leader in her high school and loved by many. Her death has left a path of devastation amongst her peers and especially her family. The pain is never ending. We MUST stop these young people from giving up ... they are NOT alone. Thank you for bringing more attention to suicide to rid it of the stigma so that we might stop more from taking their own lives.