Monday, 22 September 2014

Ronan's Escape

Perhaps it is appropriate for me to declare my personal investment in the subject of suicide, as I lost my brother to his own actions three years ago.
This short film was challenging and emotive, as it should be. It effectively portrayed the devastating effect that bullying can have on an individual. It also showed the 'pack' mentality that bullies and their accomplices can have, which can be completely overwhelming. It also showed that by not condemning bullying you become complicit in the act.
Having said that, there is no way I will use it in my lessons.
I feel very strongly that we need to give our young a positive message on how to avoid the end that the character Ronan chose, and that being bullied is something that can be dealt with, if they are brave enough to seek help. This undoubtedly would have robbed the film of its shock value (and cost it the vast majority of its youtube hits). Children are impressionable (, and need to be guided rather than shocked; to be shown that suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem, whatever the problem may be. The film even showed how Ronan went about preparing for his suicide, which I found particularly unpalatable and really quite inappropriate. I was also angered by the glib approach to Ronan's suicide. The devastating consequences of his actions were not addressed, instead the film-makers decided to go for the heart-strings and end the movie with his suicide. Might this also not send the wrong message to our young? For children to sympathise with Ronan's hopelessness is commendable, but sympathy is also due to his family that were left behind to deal with the aftermath. Cause and effect leading to his suicide, but not cause and effect afterwards.

Perhaps this story is best told in tandem with a follow up movie to make explicit to children the consequences of suicide. In isolation, however, I found the clip ill-considered at best, and exploitative at worst.


  1. Alan, I am sorry to hear about your brother. Thank you for your honest feedback on the film too. When I first watched Ronan's Escape - I found it gut-wrenching. It left an impression on me. However, for the same reasons you describe, I have not felt comfortable to show it to any secondary pupils – as it is quite stark, and without a redemptive discourse. It also does not come with any supporting materials, or follow up/ guidance - something I feel that needs to be included in any lesson. I think however, that film maker chose this format have very little dialogue, and to create something that would provoke more discussion.. and bring in the audience more personally. I am not sure if you have come across the Amanda Todd case. The video she made was available on YouTube. However, I have not shown her video to children (I have to professionals), again because the case ends badly - Amanda ends up taking her own life, after making a video explaining all the awful things she was going through, and saying she would stay strong. In the case of the Amanda Todd video, I have had pupils mention the story to me themselves, so I know that many of them have watched these videos directly themselves. Much food for thought. Thanks for sharing so honestly – Sangeet

  2. You raise an interesting point. We can control and direct what happens in our classroom, but our influence ends at 3.15. Is it better to watch something like this in an environment where we can provide the support and context that the film doesn't, than have them discover it for themselves, in isolation. The world, after all, can be a crappy place, and to completely shelter our kids from that truth would be to do them a disservice.