Addressing the Unaddressed

The importance of speaking out about teen suicide in theatre


Photo by Andrew Walters (via Twitter)

Cast of "The Girl in the Mirror" takes a final bow

Maddie Mollner, Staff Reporter

A theatrical performance’s main focus is, undeniably, to entertain. Another focus that is more often overlooked is to spread a message, to create an awareness inside the viewers that was not present before. Using the arts to spark consciousness about a particular subject is a highly effective way to bring attention to something that isn’t talked about as much as it should be.

On the weekend of April 27 through April 29, the Burke High School theatre department put on a production of “The Girl In The Mirror”, a play which addresses the sensitive topic of teen suicide. I was able to attend the final performance of the play, and what I saw truly made me think more deeply about the seriousness of suicide and why it needs to be addressed.

Playbill of “The Girl in the Mirror”

While some high schools in Omaha do offer valuable information on the subject of suicide, there are still some who miss their mark when it comes to bringing about more awareness; and there must be awareness. While it may be a sensitive area for students, being educated about suicide is extremely important, especially when it may be affecting teens personally.

This is why the correct portrayal of serious issues in theatre is important; not necessarily to create fear or sadness, but to educate and provide an important perspective on these issues. Using school productions gives students, teachers, and members of the public easy access to this information.

Throughout the production, the audience was given a glimpse inside of the mind of the main character, Susan, who was suicidal. It took place with Susan’s real body in a hospital after a suicide attempt, while her subconscious mind took a journey through her life and tried to explain her reasoning for trying to end her life. She experienced depression, a psychological disorder that many students struggle with in our very own school. The fact that many people can relate to Susan’s story made the play easy to connect with and truly understand.

Photo by Andrew Walters (via Twitter)
Expert panel answering questions from the audience

At the end of the play, Susan was given the option to continue living, which she chose. Giving herself another chance at life showed the audience that, no matter what your struggles are, there are always ways to cope and push through, even when it seems too difficult.

At the end of “The Girl in the Mirror”, there was a panel that could answer questions from the audience. This panel consisted of one of Burke’s counselors, the Project Coordinator at the Kim Foundation for suicide prevention, and a mother who lost her youngest son to suicide. They were able to offer information and resources for those seeking help. There were also many options for resources including websites and hotlines outside of the auditorium for anyone who might need them.

Photo by Andrew Walters (via Twitter)
Informative resources that were provided

Portrayal of serious issues such as teen suicide in theatre is extremely valuable and should be integrated more into the arts. I applaud Burke’s theatre department for presenting such an educational and touching display of information on suicide. They truly realize the importance of speaking out about serious issues and not staying silent.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, please consider these resources:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK (8255)
Boys Town National Hotline: 800.448.3000
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741
The Trevor Project: 866.488.7386
Your Life Your Voice:

Maddie Mollner

Maddie joined The Flightline in January of 2017. She is a senior this year, involved in cheerleading. Outside of school, she reads, collects flamboyant socks and hangs out in parks with her friends. You can email her at [email protected]