'Hoan Alone' documentary explores suicide and the Milwaukee landmark

A local filmmaker is taking on an often taboo subject in the hopes someone's life will be saved.

Aaron Johnson's new animated film "Hoan Alone" makes its local debut at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival in September. 

Johnson said he got the idea for the film during his morning commute.

"Last year on separate occasions I drove by and saw someone on the edge of the bridge ready to kill themselves," said Johnson.

He did research and found that 30 people had taken their life at the Milwaukee landmark since 2000.

"I felt like this is an important topic an important issue and something worth exploring," Johnson said. 

In the 8 minute short film, Johnson interviewed three people with connections to attempted suicide, or family members of those who decided to end their own life. He only used a voice recorder and later animated the interviews for the film.  

"Animation doesn't have to be about cartoons or cartoon characters it can be a powerful way to tell powerful stories," said Johnson. 

Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Schneider, M.D. says the interviews with those who have decided not to take their own life or help someone else not take theirs will help others considering suicide.

"To realize there are other people who have gotten to those spots and have lived throught them. Lots of people have lived through spots like that I think that's a good way to help people see... I do have other options," said Schneider. 

The film will be shown at The Milwaukee Short Film Festival on September 7th. For more information on the film and a 30 second trailer click here.

Milwaukee County Health has resources for families or individuals dealing with suicide. Visit their website or call the Suicide Hotline 24/7 at 414-257-7222

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