Find God in the Movie: To Save a Life (on Suicide)

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

In the movie (now on DVD) To Save a Life , Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) is shocked when his ex-best friend Roger takes his own life at school.

In his grief, Jake recalls how three years before he had begun to shun Roger. Jake had succumbed to peer pressure from a more ‘popular’ crowd to ignore Roger and better enhance Jake’s status as the high school basketball star.

Meanwhile, a youth pastor, Chris, reveals that Roger had attended church the Sunday before he killed himself. Chris feels guilty, sensing he could have done more to prevent that tragedy.

As Jake struggles with his old friend’s death, he meets Chris and attends his church youth group. Jake’s  girlfriend attempts to go with him, yet feels judged. As a result, Jake speaks out angrily about how the youth group is failing to welcome and include others.

Chris and some of the teens in that group (realistically, not all) take that seriously. One teen suggests they meet daily at the school for lunch. Jake bravely begins to do so with them, putting himself in a position of being shunned by his own friends and girlfriend, yet feeling convicted about the need to change his life.

Jake notices another teen, Jonny (Sean Michael Afable), being bullied. Still feeling guilt about not having prevented Roger’s death in some way, Jake reaches out to Jonny.  However, as Jake’s own troubles multiply, he becomes self-focused and insensitive to Jonny, failing him too (at first). Johnny then becomes desperate, as Roger had.

I won’t reveal the few twists and turns at the end, nor Jake’s dramatic personal struggles he must surmount, to allow for a few surprises as you see the film. This movie is well worth watching, and the acting in the film is well done. The movie earned a PG-13 rating, which is justified for the serious content, portrayal of alcohol use and implied sex. Those scenes do illustrate high school life fairly realistically so the film doesn’t look whitewashed, but that plus the suicide focus do not make this movie appropriate for preteens or children.

The Christian teens I also felt were realistically portrayed, with not all of the Christian teens having the best intentions but many who do. People like me who have spent many hours with teens who love God may not realize how amazingly sensitive and kind teens can be. I have raised beautiful teens with hearts that do reach out to others, for which I am thankful.

Many teens, like Jake, would say:

“At some point you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘What do you want your life to be about’?”

Is it about being popular? Or changing the lives of others, and perhaps even saving a life?

Teens: share or read your own stories at tosavealifemovie.com/stories/. (4692 Life-Changing Stories, to date.)

Here’s the movie trailer for To Save a Life:

To Save a Life (2009) is available on DVD at Walmart, Amazon, LifeWay and other Christian bookstores.

To read articles about suicide prevention, stories about people (including teens) who have overcome the desire to commit suicide, and find support for survivors, visit our sister site:  ThinkingAboutSuicide.com  You can also find more help at GodTest.com.

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is an author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter as @LaurieSargent.

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