Community Pushes ‘To Save a Life’

Published 12:04 am Sunday, January 17, 2010

Several weeks ago, members of the Miss-Lou community were granted the privilege to view a private screening of the movie “To Save a Life.” The film tackles compellingly realistic issues that teenagers endure on a daily basis such as suicide, pregnancy, self-mutilation, stress, relationships and broken households. The screening’s purpose was to gather a group of people willing to work together to bring the film to Natchez on its opening weekend.

Now, due to the teamwork of half a dozen local churches, a multitude of youth leaders and concerned residents, Natchez Cinema IV will hold the world premiere on Jan. 22. Symon Hagar of Outreach, Inc. communicated that getting the movie to Natchez was a miracle. While large cities throughout America struggled to book show times, Natchez was picked in spite of its small size and inability to produce large profits.

Don’t be fooled. The effort to bring this full-length picture to Natchez was not motivated by a desire to accommodate Christian viewers by providing a film with a positive message. In the wake of a tragic suicide and two separate accidents that brutally changed the lives of local high school students, such a film was deemed necessary by parents, teachers and pastors alike.

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A recent Associated Press article writes, “A new study has found that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era.” There couldn’t have been a better time for this movie to come out than now.

“To Save a Life” was created as a tool to reach out to the hurting teenage population. If utilized to its potential, students could realize that they have a real opportunity to help others, possibly impacting hundreds of lives. I had the honor of presenting this film at five separate screenings to over one hundred youth leaders. The overwhelming response was, “We need this movie here. What can I do to help?”

On several occasions, high school students told me that they saw themselves in the movie. In an age where sex and special effects dominate the silver screen, this low budget movie brought students to tears. Immediately after the third screening, several youth counselors were pulled aside by attendees to discuss their own personal struggles with suicide.

I don’t believe we have the time to criticize the quality or motivation behind the film. Let us work together and focus our energies to bring healing, joy and hope to the youth of this community. And if one film has the possibility to make a difference, then why allow such an opportunity to pass us by? I encourage you to not only support the movie, but to invite others whom you think will benefit from watching it.

Edwin Samson is a missionary temporarily living in Natchez.