For several years I’ve been telling my personal story through memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah based on my 30 character, 1-man play. In my story, after a near life-long bout of chronic selfishness, followed by my father’s suicide in my early twenties, a lawsuit from my mother over my father’s inheritance, and a break-up with my long-term girlfriend; all in the span of twenty months—I fell into melancholy that eventually had me hanging out of my fourth floor bedroom window contemplating taking my life.
But I pulled myself back inside and got help—all because I took a risk and shared my pain and my personal story.
But this idea of keeping silent continued to bother me. I did some research while in my recovery and found out that each year, suicide kills over one million people worldwide… and that many of those one million never speak up about their emotional pain because of stigma.
Damn. I had to figure out a way to reach people like that. So, like any other actor, writer, or comedian (which I am) in New York City, I created a one-man show… and it has toured all over the North America, Europe, and Australia—and people were getting help.
After nearly every show, incredible people, complete strangers who felt voiceless and worthless yet who were outstanding people confided in me very powerful, personal stories of how they’ve overcome tremendous odds in their lives. These stories not only changed my life for the better but the life of the storyteller as well.
At one point or another in our lives, I, along with those storytellers took a chance on themselves and said “I am possible.”
***I’m going to write in this space once a week and give brief posts on things like: My travels with the show, tour booking, writing, entrepreneurialism, branding, self-help, theatre, story telling, and anything else fun, interesting, or useful.
Intermittently, I'll be posting other people's stories, all true, all 1000 words or less, and all will have be easily recognizable with a title that begins with "According to…" and then the author's name. Some of these stories will be edited further and be a part of "The i'Mpossible Project" book series.
Many thanks for letting me share my thoughts and my art with you.
A Little History
Josh Rivedal wrote and developed the play ...According to Josh*, a dark comedy that focuses on the relationship he had with his father while growing up as well as the suicides of his father and grandfather, also a World War II veteran. The play was originally intended for a traditional theatre-going audience; but after speaking with audience members whose own lives had been touched by suicide and after experiencing his own depression and suicidal thoughts, Josh decided to refocus the play toward suicide prevention and mental health education. In May 2011, Josh, in conjunction with the National Psychology Honor Society, Psi Chi, launched the premiere of ...According to Josh: Broadway Theatre Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Program at Baruch College in New York City. It has since toured in more than 80 locations across 28 U.S. States, Canada, Scotland, England, and Australia.
At the end of 2011, Josh began writing his memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah** based on ...According to Josh. He began work on the book because he wanted to give a deeper, darker, and more accessible look than what could be achieved in an 80-minute play and keynote. There were many more people to help and also more requests for he and his one-man show than he could possibly fulfill. A person in County Cork, Ireland could be reading the book while he presented his keynote program in Louisville, Kentucky.
** note that despite the title, there is NOTHING religious or spiritual about the play, the book, or Josh’s work
The book doesn’t only talk of Josh’s struggles but also recovery from clinical depression and suicidal thoughts. Most of what is shown in the media is a person struggling and not someone in recovery. And those stories are hardly ever presented with humor, which can be a normal human reaction to some forms of tragedy. With his book, Josh tells the person who is struggling, “it’s cool, it’s okay to be struggling, it’s okay to need help; people have your back.” He also shows friends, loved ones, and caregivers to know how to help someone experiencing depression, or thoughts of suicide.
A Note on Josh’s
Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Work and Training
Josh has received ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) training from LivingWorks and the NY Office of Mental Health. He has also received the internationally acclaimed QPR training (Question, Persuade, Refer), a mental health CPR, from creator Dr. Paul Quinnett. He has previously served on the board of directors for the New York City chapter of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and currently serves on the board of Elijah’s Journey, a Jewish Response to Suicide Prevention. His memoir, published in 2013, based on the play was added to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list for survivors of suicide loss. He was recently appointed to the speakers bureau for the American Association of Suicidology.
Tortured by his thoughts, Josh finds himself standing on the ledge of a fourth floor window, contemplating jumping out to end it all; in a moment of truth, he must reach out to the only person who can help him before it's too late. Featuring cameos by Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., and Elvis; …According to Josh is a comedic and poignant true-to-life tale of love, loss, struggle, and survival. It's an account of one young man's passage into manhood.
A journey through depression and coming out the other side…
By the time Josh Rivedal turned twenty-five, he thought he’d have the perfect life—a few years singing on Broadway, followed by a starring role in his own television show. After which, his getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and his face would grace the cover of the National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Instead, his resume is filled with an assortment of minor league theatre and an appearance on The Maury Povich Show—a career sidetracked by his father’s suicide, a lawsuit from his mother over his inheritance, and a break-up with his long-term girlfriend.
Tortured by his thoughts, he finds himself on the ledge of a fourth floor window, contemplating jumping out to inherit his familial legacy. In turn he must reach out to the only person who can help him before it’s too late.
Based in part on his acclaimed one-man show, The Gospel According to Josh is a comedic and poignant true-to-life tale of love, loss, struggle, and survival—a gospel account of one young man’s passage into manhood—his twenty-eight-year Gentile bar mitzvah
Recent Articles & Publicity
(Click on the titles)
- Real Men Talk About Their Feelings -- For Real
- The Butterfly Effect of Male Suicide
- How to Create a Long Term Legacy
- A Sin at The Intersection of Faith, Religion, and Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- CALMzine (mental health publication in the UK)
- From the American Association of Suicidology
- From the Tri-Town News
- From Theater 4 Teens
- From Evolving Beings
- From Call Me Adam
- From The Current at Carthage College
- From Eye on Psi Chi the e-mag for the Int’l Psych Honor Society, Psi Chi.
- From The Nevada Sagebrush at The University of Nevada, Reno
- From Inside Laurier at Wilfrid Laurier University (p. 3)
- From The Portland State Vanguard at Portland State University
- From Psych Talk Radio at The University of North Carolina (Radio)
- From Review Fix (Radio)