‘We should talk about suicide out loud’: A moving, unexpected Oscars moment

02.23.15 2 years ago

HOLLYWOOD – “I want to dedicate this to my son Evan Perry. We lost him to suicide. We should talk about suicide out loud. This is for him.”

It's a jarring and unexpected soundbite from a show rooted in the glitz and glamor of Hollywood – and yet not so much when you consider the subject: Dana Perry, producer of Documentary Short Subject winner “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.” The film focuses on the employees of a 24-hour crisis line for veterans and their families who are struggling with financial, physical and emotional troubles, including thoughts of suicide.

“Of course, I do have a personal connection to the subject,” said Perry backstage. “I lost my son.  He was 15 when he killed himself; and since that happened, what I said, I think I said something [onstage] like, 'We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide,' because the best prevention for suicide is awareness, and discussion, and not trying to sweep it under the rug.”

On a night that was heavy on social commentary — including Patricia Arquette's gender equality shoutout after winning the award for Best Supporting Actress — it was a moment that seems destined to get buried in the post-Oscars news cycle. But it's worth remembering.

“We've got a crisis with our veterans who are killing themselves,” Perry continued. “More veterans have killed themselves than have died in these wars of the last, you know, decade or so.”

Perry's stirring onstage moment, of course, was followed immediately by host Neil Patrick Harris's crack about her outfit — “It takes a lot of balls to wear that dress” — which the producer heard for the first time from the assembled press corps. She greeted it with good humor.

“That is adorable; and I invite anyone to feel my furry balls,” Perry laughed, before adding: “I went shopping in my mother-in-law's attic.  She had great style.  She's not with us anymore, but she had great style in the '60s and '70s, and this is one of her excellent signature pieces.  And I just love to wear it, because I can make ridiculous dirty jokes about it, and it also keeps me warm.  You know, I just got the gown to sort of support the balls, you know what I mean?”

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