Ascension Parish woman paralyzed by suicide attempt takes story to silver screen to help save others

An Ascension Parish woman is taking her suicide-attempt experience to the silver screen to help others find hope and stay alive.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An Ascension Parish woman is taking her suicide-attempt experience to the silver screen to help others find hope and stay alive.

“My Ascension” is a documentary filmed in Ascension, St. James and East Baton Rouge Parish that highlights the journey of Emma Benoit.

On June 7, 2017, at the age of 16, Benoit tried to take her own life. She was left paralyzed from a gunshot wound.

“I was just tired of putting up a facade, putting on a fake smile, putting on a mask,” Benoit said.

Benoit said she was suffering from depression and anxiety, but kept it hidden from friends and family.

“I really just lived my life to myself, but I portrayed a different character on the outside,” Benoit said.

Benoit premiered her documentary at the Malco Gonzalez Cinema Wednesday, Oct. 27. The film details her work to establish Hope Squad, a school-based suicide prevention program, in Louisiana.

The film also shares the stories of two remarkable young people who tragically did not survive their attempts.

“I really just felt like, after coming through that and surviving that, I really saw how common that was and that I really wasn’t alone in my suffering and my pain,” Benoit said.

At the premiere was a table with pictures of about a dozen Ascension Parish residents who died from suicide.

Mona Arnold, who was at the premiere, said her son was one of them.

“This puts a name to a face. Everyone who’s coming in the theater to watch a movie, it’s not just to watch a documentary, these are people from Ascension Parish,” Arnold said. “It was a shock that he did this, but this gives my pain a purpose.”

The movie started off with the dramatic 911 audio of the day Benoit tried to take her life.

“This is the premiere of something we hope will grow throughout the nation and bring more awareness to teen suicide and something some teens are reluctant to talk about,” Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment said.

“I don’t say hopefully, I know this will help a lot of young adults, old adults, and I think it will help a lot of people across the United States,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said.

“This has really been the goal from the very beginning. That’s bringing people together, starting this conversation, and removing that stigma,” Benoit said.

To see the documentary, click here.

For suicide prevention resources, click here.

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