Throughout National Suicide Prevention Week, Brothers will share personal stories of how suicide has affected their lives in an effort to show the impact that suicide can have. The hope is that by creating awareness and shedding light on a hard truth, Brothers may be able to intervene and save a life.

Brothers who want to share their story can send an open letter and a headshot of themselves to

Christopher Folkens, a 2001 initiate of the Alpha Xi Chapter at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign shares a story of the loss of his friend Ryan and the impact it has made on his life.

Christopher Folkens
Alpha Xi – 2001

TRIGGER: An Open Letter on Suicide

It was the fall of 2001 when we got the call. My dear friend Ryan had hung himself. He was a powerful influence in my life and he was my Brother’s best friend since childhood.

Why? How could this have been? He seemed so happy. Was I going to end up like him?

To be totally transparent, the ripple effects of his death still affect me to this day.  

The unbearable pain of seeing his lifeless body at the wake was horrifying. That moment, I realized just how important it was for me to work to create a world where suicide no longer exists.

Flash forward several years of development, I finally crafted a story that seemed worthy of production and felt like it would truly save lives. Not two days after we begin raising money for TRIGGER, Robin Williams died by suicide too.

The film communicates everything through a cathartic experience. We see the masks our characters have been clinging to for ego-based reasons start to slip as their authentic masterpiece shines through.

We experience life through Kevin’s eyes as he goes through the push and pull of emotional triggers that get him so close to ending it all, and also what it takes to re-write those stories in a way that empowers him to choose life.

I was adamant that the film’s approach to the story be experiential in nature and totally different than any other film of this variety I had ever seen. If we were to be successful at truly changing lives, it needed to excel in all aspects of storytelling, production, and post-production.

The mere fact that the *pitch* video for the project alone already saved lives — as I’ve received emails from several people telling me it stopped them from making that permanent choice — I am fully confident that the narrative short has been exponentially more effective now that it is available worldwide via iTunes and Amazon (see

The symptom that is suicide stems from the same root causes that create war, genocide, and quite frankly a cold, detached, and disconnected world today. I believe that we can and will create a connected, caring, loving world of peace and freedom to be True to oneself. This isn’t to say that these are the only causes of suicide but if for nothing else, it is undoubtedly

We are all creatures who’s core is nothing but unconditional love and whatever is stopping us from being that is something we all get to address. We’ve become masters at learning how to cover that up, through our judgments, fears, and resistance to ourselves and the world around us.

I invite you to imagine a world in which love conquers fear, where hope conquers doubt, and where living an authentic life, true to the essence of who we all are, is the norm and not the exception. That is the world I am committed to creating. This film is a catalyst.

It is up to us as Brothers to stand for that vision and I do believe it is very much in line with what Father Mills stood for in his design for this truly special Brotherhood.

Fraternally yours, 
Christopher Folkens