Mental Health, Depression and Suicide
I have begun a dramatic new photo book project for me, on a most sensitive topic……Mental Health and specifically depression and suicide. Here’s a short description of the project below. If you would like the longer version please let me know.
I will be talking more about this new and dramatically different direction for me and my photography in future posts. Let’s start with the short description of the new project.
I Chose To Live: Photo Stories of Hope
The mission of the I Chose to Live: Photo Stories of Hope photo book project is to save lives and prevent future suicide attempts.
Using a high quality, soft cover and affordable photo book format as a vehicle, the I Chose to Live photo book will bring forward the voices and images of a diverse group of twelve people with lived experience around suicide, showing them in the midst of what makes their lives meaningful and purposeful – their families and friends, their communities, their work, the activities they pursue. It will use the narrative power of stories and photographs to speak to the connections and supports that suicide prevention research tells us are lifesaving.
Research findings indicate that many people who are acutely suicidal don’t necessarily want to die. They want to put an end to their pain and suffering. Their isolation and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness prevent them from seeing any alternatives to suicide.
Story-telling is a well-known, powerful transformative tool. It recognizes the shared experience of all human beings. It connects people, helps to develop a common understanding and passes on knowledge based on human experience. This photo book project is uniquely differentiated from other suicide prevention materials by directly addressing people struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings through the purposeful use of story.
It will offer the wisdom of people with lived experience of suicide who have found hope and lives of meaning and purpose, to help people find their own paths forward. The photo book will use a distinctive presentation style, distinct from those generally used in suicide prevention materials, which rely heavily on text and statistics. The presentation style will be visual……a picture is worth a thousand words. The more visual a presentation is, the stronger the emotional resonance is and the better the understanding and acceptance of the message is.
Readers of the photo book will see, feel, and more clearly understand that there is hope for a full recovery for them, just as there was for the diverse group of people who appear in the photo book. They will see and understand that others have walked in their shoes and have experienced the same isolation, hopelessness, and despair, the same lack of control and connection. They will learn how each of these individuals, in their own way, found hope, meaning and purpose in their lives, reclaiming a positive sense of self and identity, and be empowered to find their own paths to healing.