Letters from psychologists after viewing the play.
Thank you for inviting me to see your play, "Yedidim". It is very well thought out and sensitively handles the issues it presents. The juxtaposition of the pupils' organization to help a friend with a life-threatening somatic illness, with their awakening to the fact that psychic illness can be just as deadly, emphasizes the need for all of us to be educated about the signs of mental distress. Especially during adolescence, when youth often find it easier to share their doubts and fears with peers, a caring and informed friend can be a life saver!
The play also demonstrates the various ways people can tap into resources to cope with crisis situations, such as knowledge, group support, taking action, spiritual beliefs and creative and emotional expression.
My recommendation would be to prepare them in advance by having them learn with a school counselor or psychologist and their teacher about signs of severe mental distress and when they should involve adults in getting help for a friend. They should view the play with a concept in mind about how they would cope in a similar situation. After viewing the play, the pupils should have the opportunity to discuss their reactions and thoughts with their teachers under the guidance and with the involvement of the school counselor and/or psychologist.
Good Luck with getting the word out!
"Good Friends" is a chilling and touching play about a painful and traumatic topic: suicide. Anyone who has been affected by a suicide, knows how sensitive, confusing, frightening and painful the issue is. Drained of energies and strength, all one feels like doing is to try to put it aside, "forget" and escape in an attempt to carry on with life. The creators of this play do not allow themselves or their audience any such refuge.
Without realizing it, we in the audience, along with the characters in the play, try to steer clear of the issue, the existential questions, pain and depression we see before us, even before the young man who for whom life has lost its flavour, commits suicide. He feels lonely, alienated, and unable to open up.
"Good Friends", was written to ensure that we notice warning signs and are aware when we have to be proactive.
Four talented actors present us with a true story which encompasses a fight for life on the one hand and loss of self on the other, all a part of the lives of young people who embrace humour, friendship and love. This play is about a group of sixteen year-olds who are forced to cope prematurely with physical illness and mental illness, one visible and the other concealed, the one threatening life itself and the other threatening the very will to live. The physical illness is fought as a brave group effort while the mental illness remains a lone inner struggle. The group is victorious in defeating the physical illness while the lone inner struggle quietly kills its captive.
We are living in times when there is a suicide every day in Israel (and another dozen attempts which do not succeed), where the no.2 cause of death (after accidents) of young people is suicide, times in which the personal computer isolates us from an authentic, supportive environment. Sick and destructive information is freely available to children on the internet. It is essential to connect with young people and provide them with vital information and a clear stand on this topic. This very connection is impressively and successfully achieved in the play "Good Friends" - a play that might well save lives.
Ariel Ronen, psychologist
(original letter in Hebrew)
Last week, I saw the play "Good Friends", about a group of young religious people whose lives suddenly change when one of their friends is diagnosed with cancer and another commits suicide, following existential and philosophical doubts. The play portrays an authentic atmosphere of the spirit of youth, commitment to a cause, contagious enthusiasm and action.
The play tackles the youngsters' efforts to face matters of life and death in an interesting way, forcing the spectators to think, not allowing them to get carried away with emotions. The play facilitates empathy but also discretion and a variety of approaches to issues of giving support, illness, faith, death and more.
It is my opinion that this play should be seen as an important tool in raising awareness of matters connected to suicide, social responsibility and coping with mental and spiritual distress, especially in adolescents.
Dr. Hanna Bar Joseph. Senior Clinical Psychologist and member of the Israel Interdepartmental Suicide Prevention Committee
(original letter in Hebrew)