Voyager Director Brandon Kapelow has been selected by Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center as the 2024 Western Media Fellow. A visual artist whose credits span work as a director, photographer and cinematographer with a focus on addressing topics related to mental health, he will receive a $5,000 grant to pursue his project, "Somewhere I Belong," which employs a multimedia approach to tell painful but important stories about the West.

Kapelow's project centers around addressing a prevalent public-health issue plaguing Western states: suicide, an epidemic heavily linked to the American West. Having experienced suicide loss himself, Kapelow has devoted efforts to comprehending and chronicling the mental-health crisis in the severely affected states of Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Given his upbringing and familial ties to the West, his Lane Center project aims to explore the correlation between suicide and the specific environments in which it unfolds. 

"Social connection and its absence lie at the heart of this issue," Kapelow wrote in his proposal. "By creating space for survivors to tell their stories, this project seeks to foster opportunities for hope and connection through shared experience; to start difficult, but necessary conversations in areas of the West where stigmas around mental health remain powerful; and to provide insights to researchers and policy makers working to find solutions to this pervasive public health dilemma."

TIME published part one of Kapelow’s project in October of 2022 with coverage of the public health crisis in Catron County, New Mexico, which had the highest suicide rate of any county in the contiguous United States from 2010 to 2020. The Lane Center Western Media Fellowship will support a second installment of Kapelow's work, this time focusing on the rural Alaskan Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, which has the nation’s highest overall rate of suicide death.

Through the Western Media Fellowship program, the Bill Lane Center has supported journalism about Western land and life for more than a decade. Fellows work in all kinds of media - newspapers, magazines, radio, television, online, video, film, data visualization and mapping and multimedia. Connecting talented reporters to university life allows these storytellers to interact with Stanford researchers, scholars, and students while investigating projects of their own design. Applicants must submit proposals that examine a crucial aspect of the West -- its land, its people, its history, and the impact of the forces that power its economies.