The gay-suicide stereotype doesn’t kill gay people, big pharma does

700,000 people die each year do to complications from prescription drugs. (The Medical Mafia: Ghilaine Lanctot)

My biggest challenge when I wrote a story about a depressed, suicidal, gay, man was asking myself; does he die? If he dies, I would be contributing to the stereotypical cliches of gay men dying tragically in cinema. One only needs to read Vito Russo’s “Celluloid Closet” to see how cinema has perpetuated a negative depiction of the LGBT community.

“As long as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teenagers see characters who look and talk and think like themselves, and who then kill themselves, suicide will continue to suggest itself as a plausible course of action.”(Samuel Clowes Huneke)

I almost lost a gay friend to suicide when he was a teenager. The thought of being outed and the fear of being kicked out of his house made him believe death was his best option. Part of my friend’s journey inspired Highway 401. The other part was inspired by an interview that I watched on TV with the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad boasted that there were no gays in Iran. In Iran, gays live with the fear of flogging or stoning if they’re outed. Even if a gay Iranian is given refugee status, his psyche will be always fighting the indoctrinated prison of being told that you don’t matter. That invalidation makes, “Gay, lesbian and transgender youth twice and four times as likely as their straight peers to attempt suicide.” But besides lack of validation, what else could be contributing to the higher rates of suicide?

Since I was a young adult, my mission was to learn more about depression: What causes it? How is it treated? Who benefits from these treatments? What are the consequences of these treatments?Are these treatments safe?

The Copenhagen University team analysed fluoxetine (often sold under trade name Prozac), paroxetine (Seroxat), sertraline (Zoloft), venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). They warned that existing trials, including those led by the manufacturers, had ‘seriously underestimated the harms’ — and that suicidal events had often been wrongly classified as ‘emotional’ problems in the past. They cited summary reports of trials by pharma giant Lilly, maker of Prozac and Cymbalta, in which the researchers claimed records of suicide attempts were missing in 90 per cent of instances.

Can we trust the pharmaceutical industry when “their advertising and promotional budget is two to three times greater than their research budget.” (The Medical Mafia: Ghislaine Lanctot)

Big pharma’s deep pockets extend to Hollywood. Ask, yourself how many movies have you watched about depression that were critical of the pharmaceutical industry and psychotropic drugs? None of these films about depression spoke of the dangers of psychotropic drugs (Melancholia, The Virgin Suicides, Silver Linings Playbook, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Apartment, Girl Interrupted, Two Lovers, It’s a Kind of Funny Story, Little Miss Sunshine, Revolutionary Road)

I am making this movie because I want to urge people to discuss the dangers of taking psychotropic drugs. Whether, you’re straight or gay; WE ARE ALL effected.

Be a part of the movement. Highway 401 must get made and seen.


Highway 401 Indiegogo campaign

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