Mark Monroe's original short Tracks tells the story of a teenage boy living in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, an area defined almost entirely by its relationship to the San Francisco Bay Area tech boom. This area is notorious for being one of the most high-pressure environments in the country - for both adults and children. With a huge population of highly successful professionals - many of them working for prestigious companies such as Google - there has developed a cultural attitude of extreme competitiveness and a collective focus on achieving the highest level of success possible. For teenagers especially, dealing with these circumstances can be crippling if their school life is troubling as well; being bullied or teased at school on top of feeling pressure at home can become far too much to handle. Tracks explores how this kind of environment and cultural attitude can have destructive and dangerous effects on the psyches of our youth. 

It's not news that bullying from peers and feeling pressure to fit in can lead to dangerous outcomes in teenagers, but pressure to succeed is quickly starting to become an equal threat. Silicon Valley is the perfect example of what can go wrong in areas experiencing extreme cultural pressure and heightened levels of teen stress. In 2009, the city of Palo Alto, CA suffered four teen suicides in the span of five months; all four of them jumped on Caltrain tracks in front of oncoming trains. A series of suicides occurring so close together is called a suicide cluster, and it's quite rare to see, according to Nadine Kaslow, Chief Psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital, linked to Emory University in Atlanta. This suicide cluster sparked a huge discussion in the greater community about the dangers of ignoring issues of mental health in teens, issues ranging from anxiety and stress all the way to severe depression. Teens who feel as though they can never measure up to the expectations of their parents, teachers, peers, and communities can develop a lack of self-worth, and perhaps even a sense of self-loathing that can trigger dangerous behaviors such as attempting suicide. 

Tracks focuses on pointing out how stress-inducing factors, though seemingly insignificant individually, begin to add up in unbearable ways. Alongside all the negatives, though, it makes a powerful statement about how a simple act of kindness or acceptance can make all the difference in someone else's life. Tracks reminds us that for those who are suffering with mental health issues, life is a delicate balancing of the scales, and one small event could tip that person over the edge. 

What did you think of Tracks? How much pressure do you think is acceptable to place on your children to do well in school? What is the point at which it becomes detrimental? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!