Surviving Suicide: Why sound is the best medium to tell this important story
Advertising creative Thomas Worthington talks about the creation of the podcast series about his journey through the mental health system.
Walking On Jupiter is a new nine-part series airing on BBC Radio 4, written by Thomas Worthington and narrated by award-winning actor Stephen Graham (This is England, Line of Duty, Help).
A true story of survival, the series follows Worthington in a raw, honest and sometimes tragically funny story of the battle that takes place inside and outside of his own head.
Munzie Thind, sound designer at Grand Central Recording Studios (GCRS) helped to create the podcast, collaborating with Worthington to work through hours of recordings and create subtle, but impactful sound design elements to support the storytelling.
Thind comments: "It was an immense privilege to be part of Walking on Jupiter. Thomas entrusting me with his personal story was something I knew was not going to be easy. Having Stephen Graham on board and Thomas' beautifully sober and sometimes witty writing made my job a lot easier. Personally, seeing Thomas's reaction to the final mix was enough for me. Hopefully with it being picked up by the BBC it can reach a global audience and help people in similar situations.”
Below, Worthington talks about the process of bringing his story into the world through the medium of sound.
Was the podcast always the chosen format to tell your story and, if so, why do you think it works so well?
Originally, it started as some scribbles that I wrote whilst in Jupiter (Ward, South West London and St George’s Mental Health Services), then I thought it could be good as a bit of paraphernalia that you might get if you woke up in a hospital, or sought help, as most of the material on the subject is either quite dry or serious (the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a coma is read a rubbish leaflet).
But I think a podcast works so much better, it’s a format that happens in-between your ears and that’s where most of the story takes place, so it’s hopefully like you’re in my head – in your head. And if you are having similar thoughts, the hope is that it can help.
Munzie Thind, Sound Designer at Grand Central Recording Studios
What did Munzie Thind bring to the project?
Munzie has made the podcast. For me it is was the most crucial part, it was such a tricky brief because I lived through the sounds so it was all about being truthful to what happened.
He is the only person I wanted on this. I felt incredibly lucky that he agreed to do it and to be able to see his process. It is always a pleasure to just watch him work, we spent the best part of an hour just listening to different sounds of bleach bottles falling. He even created his own cartoons in episode three; he is a genius. He really cares about every little detail, he is a master craftsman, an unbelievable technician, but his greatest asset is always his ideas.
Actor Stephen Graham tells the story so incredibly well. What was the editing process like?
I always find this part of the process fascinating, We literally spent a whole working day with the record button pushed down, talking with Stephen. To be able to carve that down and finesse it to the level that it is now is an incredible feat.
What has the initial feedback been on the content been?
My anxiety, worry and general sweatiness has been met so far with overwhelming positivity. For it to be part of the BBC family is really special and will hopefully give more people a chance to listen.
Any further hopes for this as the project gets going over the next few weeks?
I am a very private person, I am the dark-corner-of-the-pub type, I don’t do social media and, for the most part, I just want to be left alone to walk my dog. So – and I still really can’t believe it is out – for me to share my totally honest, innermost thoughts, things that I am really not proud of, and put them in the public domain was very, very hard.
But, and it may be a cliché but it is true, if one person hits play whilst they are in a dark place and Walking On Jupiter somehow drags them out of there and helps them, or their family, then I think it a fair exchange for me to do this crazy extroverted thing. But, now, I’m going to run away again and walk the dog…