Powerful Suicide Prevention Campaign Challenges What Suicidal Looks Like

Suicide Prevention Campaign Shares the Last Photo of Someone Alive

A suicide prevention campaign is using photography to send a powerful message. Called The Last Photo, it shares the last picture of someone before they died by suicide. Accompanying the image is a story about the person, as told by the family or friends who shared it. The Last Photo is the work of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), a charitable organization based in the UK. Through the project, the organization is emphasizing that “suicidal doesn’t always look suicidal.”

It’s often not easy for someone to ask for help when they are suffering. According to the organization’s own research, 61% would struggle to tell someone if they felt suicidal. This is why The Last Photo is so important; it shows that sometimes a smile is a mask, and this can make it hard—or even impossible—to know that someone is having suicidal ideations.

A look through the photo gallery drives this sad fact home. Among the 50 people included in The Last Photo is Ravi, a man who died when he was 30. “He was a talented photographer and hockey player,” his sister, Lhara, wrote, “and this photo is taken at a social event with his hockey friends.

“He was my knowledgeable, older sibling, who always challenged me to be the best version of myself that I could be. I wouldn't be where I am without him. We had no idea that he suffered with depression until a couple of months before he took his own life and even then, we didn't realize it was as bad as it was.”

CALM is hoping that by starting conversations, we can all help prevent suicide. “By removing the stigma that surrounds suicide, we can make it an everyday conversation. Together we can make it easier for everyone to talk about how they’re feeling. Openly. Without judgment. Without shame. So that no one has to struggle on their own.”

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. You can find a helpline in your area, by visiting the International Association for Suicide Prevention helpline. Starting on July 16, if you're in the United States, you can dial 988 to speak with a mental health professional, 24/7, in English or in Spanish. The lifeline also uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages.

A suicide prevention campaign is using photography to send a powerful message. Called The Last Photo, it shares the last picture of someone before they died by suicide.

Boy Smiling With Flower on Head

Adam, 18. “Adam was incredibly bright, caring and smart. Also so, so stubborn. Such a shining star, eighteen forever. Adam loved going to our local park, the Millennium Green, which was established in his year of birth. We now have a remembrance bench for Adam, very near to where this photo was taken.” – Indila, Adam’s mom

Man Posing With a Dinosaur

Chris, 44. “Chris and I spent 14 years together, often challenging but always full of love. You couldn't find a sweeter, kinder or more accepting person. In the days before his passing, he seemed brighter, happier and more positive, making plans for our Christmas together, arranging trips with my mum to go and stay with our family, we sang karaoke at the top of our lungs 72hrs before he left us—I really felt like I had him back after a period that has been particularly tough. But sadly, it wasn't to be.” – Hayley, Chris’ partner

Older Woman Smiling

Josephine, 67. “Two days before my nan passed she visited this pub for her birthday, where she had her last family meal. We joked that the next year she’d get a bungee jumping or parachuting experience. I cherish this photo of her because it brings back memories of her looking effortlessly happy, content, and proud.” – Abigail, Josephine’s granddaughter

Woman Smiling Unwrapping a Present

Karen, 43. “This photograph of Karen was taken on her birthday. She and I were visiting my brother to celebrate. We had no idea she suffered in any way. Since becoming a parent myself I realize how much we hide from our children, to protect them from some of the harder things in life. She was a very young mum and I know that her silence was fuelled by her love for us.” Jessica, Karen’s daughter

Man and Baby Smiling Looking at Camera

Ciaran, 28. “Ciaran was a lovely, down-to-earth, funny person who adored being a dad. Ciaran was the most normal Scouse lad you could wish to meet. He loved his mates, his bird, and his little boy. Ciaran always said it was the making of him becoming a dad. He and his partner cried laughing from the moment they woke up until the moment they went to sleep, they had a ball together. He is missed beyond words.” – Ciaran’s family

Man Smiling Looking at Camera

David, 50. “My Dad was very outgoing and his death was a massive shock to everyone that knew him. At the time the picture was taken, he kept saying he was very happy. He always made everyone laugh, always going out of his way to help other people. He was the life and soul of the party, but internally he was fighting battles that others couldn’t see.” – Ella, David’s daughter

Photo of Person Looking at Camera

Ravi, 30. “My brother was 30 years old and loved by all who knew him. He was a talented photographer and hockey player- and this photo is taken at a social event with his hockey friends. He was my knowledgeable, older sibling, who always challenged me to be the best version of myself that I could be. I wouldn't be where I am without him. We had no idea that he suffered with depression until a couple of months before he took his own life and even then, we didn't realize it was as bad as it was.” – Lhara, Ravi’s sister

Photo of a Man Holding Hands Up to Face

Peter, 58. “This photo was taken on our 33rd Wedding Anniversary in Barcelona (we'd met as teenagers almost 40 years earlier!). It was our last holiday together. Peter had started the beginning of 2018 with such hope but that spiraled into despair soon after this photo was taken and our holiday ended—he made an unsuccessful suicide attempt just one month later and finally ended his life on the 29th December. Family, friends, and colleagues were so shocked at his loss, as he was such a character with a wicked sense of humor. To us, Peter will be remembered as a loving father and devoted grandfather. He was always ‘Babbo’ to our grandsons.” – Lisa, Pete’s wife

Woman Smiling

Elizabeth, 28. “Lizzy loved a selfie (don't we all) and in most, if not all of her photos, she's smiling. This photo was taken in her last couple of months on this Earth and is how we remember her. It's really hard to think there was such sadness behind her smiles, but you can never know what's inside someone's mind, which is why it's so important to talk.” – Hayley, Lizzy's sister

Woman Smiling With Sunglasses On

Hanna, 21. “Hanna was really silly and care-free, with a very infectious laugh. She was bubbly, caring, and never let anybody be sad. This photo was taken in Japan—as she loved anime and Japanese fashion. Hanna was a fashion student, so a very creative soul. It was our last big family holiday and it was a lovely time. She was the best sister.” – Thorn, Hanna’s sister

Woman Looking at Camera

Emily, 19. “Emily was diagnosed with high functioning autism and worked hard to get through life, gaining qualifications, doing an apprenticeship, and working in a local pub. She had wanted to go for a drive the morning she died, but was unable to due to the COVID restrictions that were coming back in. The fear that she would lose the newfound freedoms and routines that helped her handle her autism filled up her stress bucket and she could no longer cope with life.” – Tim, Emily’s father

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by CALM.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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