Should I Live Should I Die


Should I Live, Should I Die  (aka The Woman who set fire to herself) traces the lives of two courageous women battling with borderline personality disorder – a mental illness that affects one to two percent of the population.

Borderline Personality Disorder is an emotional, behavioural problem that affects around one to two percent of the population. Three times as many women are diagnosed with the disorder as men. Sufferers experience extreme swings of emotion; in any given day they can go from feeling ecstatically happy to sad, to angry, and even to suicidal. They often feel a chronic sense of emptiness and have huge fears of abandonment. Seventy percent of people with the disorder self harm as a way of coping with their traumatic emotional state. A further 45 percent attempt suicide as a way of expressing their pain.

In this moving documentary we meet 30 year old, Rachael Kavanagh. Outwardly, appears a confident, normal person but inside she struggles with huge emotional insecurity and fears of abandonment. To cope with these feelings she has been self harming for 15 years and has 200 scars on her body – a testament to the pain of living with BPD. We journey with her through the ups and downs of the illness and watch her emerge triumphant. “Rachael is an amazingly brave and honest person,” says director, Candida Beveridge.

We also follow the life of Maria de Silva, a gifted opera singer whose struggle with the illness was so great she gave up the fight for life and died after setting fire to herself in Auckland’s Aotea Square in 2003.


Promotional Trailer

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Production Details

Producers: John Harris, Rachel Stace

Special thanks to: Rachael Kavanagh

Exec producer: Andrea Lamb

Network exec: Jude Callen

Director/writer: Candida Beveridge

Additional director: Charlotte Purdy

Researcher: Kirsten Warner

Editor: Margaret Kelly

Online editor: Norm Skipp

Production manager: Lornelle Henry

Production assistant: Karen Bunting

Camera: Mark Chamberlin, Clint Bruce, Karl Schodt, Dean Whytehead

Sound: Tim Jacobsen, Andy Thomas, Phil Donovan, Ant Nevison

Narrators: Stuart Hunt, Christine Bartlett

Titles/graphics: Louie Hyman

Production accountant: Liz Goddard

Financial controller: Glenda Paterson

Funded by: New Zealand on Air and TVNZ