Fox Family Channel Takes on Teen Suicide in Special Episode of "Higher Ground"
Network to Air Special PSA and Help Hotline for Teens
Los Angeles, Jan. 31Fox Family Channel will air a
powerful new episode of the new one-hour drama series "Higher Ground,"
centered around the growing problem of teen suicide this Friday, February 4 at
9-10 PM ET/PT. The network will end the episode with a specially produced PSA
featuring a toll free suicide prevention hotline.
In this thought-provoking hour entitled "Hope Falls," a new student
commits suicide, which shakes Hannah's (Deborah Odell) faith in her ability to
effectively counsel her teen charges, eventually motivating her to resign.
The student's death evokes an unexpected reaction of anger throughout the
school, compelling school founder Frank (Jim Byrnes) to take the students on a
difficult trek to beautiful Hope Falls, the sight where his own son overdosed
22 years ago. This episode was written by John Mandel, with input from a
professionally trained counseling team, who ensured that this difficult
subject was treated in a way that will help any troubled teens or families
facing this issue.
After this special episode, Fox Family Channel will present a Public
Service Announcement with Joe Lando urging teens who need someone to talk to
or those who know of someone in trouble to call 1-800-SUICIDE. This phone
number will connect callers to the NATIONAL HOPE LINE NETWORK, where 20 local
crisis centers nationwide are ready to take the calls.
"This is the type of television that most programmers are too skittish to
deal with. What I found to be the greatest strength of the film is that it
takes a no-nonsense approach in addressing the impact of suicide on peers,"
explains Dr. Jay Nagdimon, who is the director of the Suicide Prevention
Center of the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. "It was very honest
and realistic that the other youngsters felt angry at Isaac. This reaction is
common and the show allowed an opportunity for that anger to be dealt with."
"The situation depicted in 'Hope Falls' is very realistic," explains Dr.
Elaine Leader, the Executive Director of Teen Line, a teen-to-teen telephone
helpline affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "It is not uncommon for
teens to experience moodiness, depression or the feeling of chaos in their
lives. These problems are treatable, when recognized early. However, a
serious depression may lead to suicide, so adults need to be aware of the
warning signs. Also, since young people readily identify with each other,
when a young person commits suicide it can trigger other teens. It's
important, therefore, that feelings be dealt with and processed as soon as
possible to avoid further tragedies."
Two of television's most successful producers, Emmy-Award winning Michael
Braverman ("Chicago Hope" and "Life Goes On") and Doug Schwartz (the
international smash "Baywatch"), together with Canadian producer Harold
Tichenor ("Night Man") and a star of one of the decade's most enduring series,
Joe Lando (Sully of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), bring their considerable
creative forces to "Higher Ground," a simmering mix of compelling drama,
intense relationships and spectacular action as at-risk teens try to put their
lives back together.
Set at a wilderness school in the Pacific Northwest, the series tracks the
progress of at-risk teens as their teachers and counselors guide their quest
to put their lives back on the right course. All the while, they still cope
with crushes, parents, heartbreaks and each other. Showcasing picturesque
surroundings and intense, involving storylines, "Higher Ground" boasts an
array of fresh new faces, including Hayden Christensen (The Virgin Suicides),
A.J. Cook, Meghan Ory (The Darklings), Kyle Downes ("Are You Afraid of the
Dark?"), Kandyse McClure (The Spiral Staircase) and Jorge Vargas (Excess
Baggage). Higher Ground also stars Jim Byrnes ("Wiseguy," "The Highlander")
and Anne Marie Loder ("Due South").
Fox Family Channel, which premiered on August 15, 1998 as a revitalized
version of The Family Channel, is a division of International Family
Entertainment, Inc. The family-targeted basic cable network available in
75.3 million homes nationwide delivers a dynamic mix of original and acquired
series, specials and movies for the entire family.
CONTACT: Isabella Ironside of Fox Family Channel, 310-235-5532