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The Last Photo - "Suicidal Doesn't Always Look Suicidal"
National campaign by the Charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) showing that suicidal doesn't always look suicidal...
with my brother
the calm campaign
48 photos of our loved ones beautifully displayed at The Southbank which ran for one week in June 2022. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit twice; on the 'family, friends and press preview day' and again on the official launch day. It was hugely successful with coverage nationwide in the national, local press, television and across social media. Gok Wan was there presenting for ITV's This Morning programme and he was so incredibly sensitive and caring, giving us hugs and genuinely moved by the whole experience. It got people talking about mental health, grief and opened up the conversation around suicide and suicide loss.
I was interested in hearing what passers-by thought....comments ranging from "oh, it must be missing persons", or, "I think it's people looking for love", or, "it's some sort of dating campaign". I didn't hear a single person reference anything to do with suicide, death or mental health. Not until they read the wording and then it hit them.
Some people looked frozen. Others had tears in their eyes. Comments such as "they look so happy, this is so sad" and "oh this is heartbreaking" were recurring. The footfall along this part of London by the river is huge and when I was there on the Wednesday a jogger ran past and then suddenly stopped and then paused and looked closer at the wording and then was visibly in tears.
This runner was the DJ and Presenter Chris Evans. I didn't realise it was him until I spoke to him and then he kindly asked me about my brother and was genuinely interested to learn all about the campaign. He was visible moved by the entire display of so many loved ones lost too soon.
It's unlikely that Chris will ever see this, but if he does, I just want to say a sincere thank you for being so incredibly understanding, empathetic and caring.
with chris evans
with gok wan
Moving footage of some of the last photos appearing at the event in London, June 2022. I captured this whilst I was there, and hearing the background of people going about their everyday lives makes this all the more heartwrenching. Please watch with caution as this may be upsetting.
Having just watched the footage again, something incredible just stood out! At the point my camera moves around the corner towards my brother's photo, you hear the sound of a song suddenly playing in the background and having just worked out what the lyrics are, I've got goosebumps........even the moment my camera points directly at Stu's photo, right on queue, you hear the lyric "paradise" (at 1 min 29 secs exactly).......coincidence or a sign?! 29 is also the date of Stu's birthday!!
"....Now I'm paralyzed
Still stuck in that time, when we called it love.
But even the sun sets in paradise.
I'm at a payphone, trying to call home..."
WOW!! That last sentence, "at a payphone trying to call home..."
This is a song by Maroon 5 called 'Payphone'. I've never really listened to the lyrics of this song before but there's another song of their's that I played repeatedly after Stu died called "Memories", so this has to be a sign right?
A huge thank you to everyone at CALM and all those who participated with their loved ones to raise much needed awareness about suicide, mental health and grief.
Suicide & Co - "Words Unspoken"
National campaign by the charity Suicide & Co who are advocates for the power of shared experience. There are over 100 letters written by those left behind after suicide loss.
My Darling Brother,
It's been 2 years and 4 months since you departed.
It’s always been you and me, brother and sister .....and the world. We always had each other. Our sibling bond connected us no matter where we were or what we were doing. We were the joint keepers of our childhood memories and that’s so special.
Just knowing we had each other here on earth was a constant comfort in our lives. I trusted you with my life and could always rely on you, no matter what.
You were there from the moment I was born. 46 years later you left without saying goodbye. I’ve had to learn how to live in the world as a sister without a sibling. And because of lockdown, the last time we saw each other in person was 6 months earlier.
I'm not cross with you. I'm not mad at you. I just miss you and I'm so sad that you felt you had to leave.
I know you liked to be impulsive and I guess this was your final impulsive decision. I've visited your tree many times and I have to say, you found the most beautiful little oasis in the heart of the forest to transition to the other side. Knowing your last moments were among beautiful pine trees, surrounded by a beautiful stream and precious sunshine, I hope peace came to you quickly. I really do.
You have left a wonderful legacy my darling brother. Your kindness shines through your 5 year old twin niece and nephew and they will forever be blessed by their Uncle Stu Guardian Angel always watching over them.
I know you send us messages and signs and these bring a smile, always. But I just miss you. We all do.
I'm sorry I wasn't there for you in your desperate time of need. I'm so so so sorry.
I'm sorry you departed alone, but I guess that's actually what you preferred. You never liked to make a fuss about anything and I know you didn't want to cause us upset.
I know you miss mum and dad and all your friends as much as they miss you. You didn't have a choice. And we love you. We love you and miss you and we will all be together again. I promise. We just have life to live here first and when our work is done, I can't wait to see you and hear all about your new adventures.
Keep shining the brightest star in the sky Stu.
Love you lots like jelly tots!
Your little sister (although I'm now older than you!)
ps. Thank you for being my big brother x
Social Media Campaigns For Awareness
International Suicide Loss Survivors Day
With the help and courage of other suicide loss survivors, I put together this poster to share across social media to hopefully reach others in this space to feel less alone, as well as highlighting the importance of community.
I can't remember if this was specifically to raise awareness about Men's mental health and suicide but all photos represent the loss of a male loved one. A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated with this.
Although it's globally referred to as "World Suicide Prevention Day", I prefer to use the word "Awareness" because "Prevention" can often cause more distress to those left behind. A sincere thank you to everyone who took part in this.