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New Play In Chicago Aims To Teach Warning Signs About Suicide

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Morning Insiders heard about a unique program starting in Chicago on Wednesday. It's a theatrical production designed to prevent suicide.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory went behind the scenes of this potentially life-saving play.

The build-up to suicide is not always obvious, but it's apparent that deaths in this way are building up nationwide.

In Illinois 15- to 24-year-olds have been dying by suicide at an increasing rate since 2013.

LaurenSage Browning – a 21-year-old writer, producer, and actress – wanted to show Chicago some warning signs. The loss of a good friend inspired her cross-country activism.

"Not in a shout in your face and wave banners around way; in a way that was compelling and relatable and honest and sympathetic," she said.

Browning wrote and produced her play, titled "I Could Take a Nap, but Killing Myself Would Be More Productive."

After a few tweaks at dress rehearsal, the cast is ready to take Chicago inside the journal (and mind) of 18-year-old Sofia.

The audience watches as Sofia struggles with seemingly normal teen troubles related to academics, social media and fighting with family and friends.

Between loud outbursts and quiet reflections, Sofia retreats with no one noticing it's too much for her until a tragic turning point.

"We work to make it a story about prevention, a story that makes people feel heard and represented and not to ever say there's a reason not to be here tomorrow," Browning said.

Still, the material weighs heavy, even on the cast.

"It's hard not to hear the people crying or not to look at the people who are in the audience," actress Fiona Rose said.

"We're still in school, so we still witness a lot of pressures and anxiety with the real world. And so I think it's really important – for me at least – to decompress after every show," actor August Gall said.

Don't come expecting to laugh.

"Come so you can save a life," Browning said.

"If one person leaves and thinks about it later, is affected, then I think we've done our job," Rose said.

Stage 773 in Lakeview is the place to catch this thought-provoking production for the next five days.

After the Chicago tour, the cast returns to school.

All of those mature young adults are students at California Institute of the Arts. They don't make any money from the play. Proceeds from the ticket sales go strictly toward production costs.

There are many resources for people in need, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1-800-273-8255.

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