Image via CALM
Through June 26, anyone walking along the River Thames in London would be surrounded by portraits of smiling people.
None of those subjects, however, are alive today. Their photos were taken not long before they took their own lives.
There is no one face of suicide, nor is there an easy way to tell if someone is hiding their grief behind a mask.
An outdoor gallery set up by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) reminds the public that even people who have suicidal thoughts can appear cheerful for fear of worrying their loved ones or being judged. According to the suicide prevention nonprofit, 125 people die by suicide every week in the UK.
Image via CALM
The faces of 50 dearly-departed individuals, eternalized by their smiles, included Rob Bell, who committed suicide at the age of 39, the Huffington Post UK reports. His photo was snapped right after he had left a James Taylor gig and was waiting for a train.
Bell is survived by his wife Poorna, an author and journalist. She remembered that her husband “couldn’t stop smiling” at the time the photo was taken and that he was humming Something In The Way She Moves.
Steffan Rees was just 26 years old when he took his own life. “He was the best. Always laughing and joking. The life and soul of the party,” his sister Sian wrote. Rees even taught his niece to sing If You’re Happy And You Know It, according to LADbible.
The exhibition follows research by YouGov and CALM revealing that 61% of people would struggle to know if a person they knew felt suicidal, and only 24% admitted to being aware that someone who smiled and joked could also be suicidal. 51% were unsure how to help a loved one who was dealing with suicidal thoughts.
The charity hopes to eradicate stigma and encourage more conversations about suicide, even with people who are always smiling.
By spreading awareness about the fact that suicidal faces can take different forms, it believes the community can save countless lives.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to talk to an expert.
[via Huffington Post UK and LADBible, images via CALM]