Everbody looses family, parents, friends, associates to death, by natural causes mostly, others by accident. But I would think those who loose someone close by suicide are by far in the minority.
How to approach this I could not offer a suggestion. My understanding is that suicide is the the most extreme form of mental illness there is. Maybe by not offering a suggestion, might lead you to find one yourself.
My deepest condolences.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
Originally Posted by Whiteymorange
Sorry. I should have been more sensitive. But I have been at least part way on the other side of the fence, and have seen friends cross the fence. Should I say that they have crossed it successfully? 'Success' is not the word that would come to most people in this context.
I'm disputing what anyone can learn without going at least part way there, and (without wishing to be unduly cruel) I'm also suggesting that if attempted suicides can survive and prosper, for a given value of prosper, then for bystanders to survive is perhaps something that will happen anyway.
Unless you already know why he did it, my fear and belief is that you cannot know why he did it, and that by analyzing it too much you may make things worse for you, not better. You may even find out why... People talk of low self-esteem. There's also the mind-set which says, "If I do not want to live, and my opinion of others is lower than my opinion of myself, then why bother?"
I know how difficult it is to lose someone to suicide, I have been there, and never want to return - hugs to you - time will help.
Originally Posted by Whiteymorange
On to your question....
I suffered a heart attack 5 years ago (at age 44). It came as a huge wakeup call to me, as well as my family. My wife is an artist, and she did make a piece of art out of it. She used a combination of found objects, photography, and ceramics to make a piece that captured a lot of the uncertainty that we were facing. She did not make the piece in the immediate aftermath, but several months later - after she had time to incorporate the changes that this meant for us into herself.
Perhaps the best thing to do now is to just remember your student, and prepare your artistic tribute to him when you are able to separate him from the grief that you are feeling now - in my mind, the tribute should celebrate his life, not dwell on the grief that all are marinating in now.
Whitey... my condolences.
This is difficult, I'm sure, and following your instinct to make art, and perhaps find a way to make art with some of your students may prove powerfully creative and cathartic.
When we first met, there was a student painting a self-portrait in the studio, and he was looking at the painting, and his own reflection, and I recall you urging him to get some paint on the brush, put some paint on the canvas and go with it, don't think too much. So my only humble bit of advice is your advice to that student.
My thoughts and prayers to you and all the students and faculty there.
Last edited by SuzanneR; 11-06-2006 at 03:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I should also say that you need to be on the look out for any other students expressing suicidal ideations and get them proper pastoral or medical help. In school environments often there will be those who see the attention given to victum of suicide and want to copy cat.
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How very sad to hear. I agree with not trying to force anything while it's still so close, unless something comes, unbidden, to you. Then go with it.
I do hope some kind of art will come from it, not only as a respectful way to honor this young man's life, but to give all of you who cared something positive to hold onto. Please accept my condolences.
You have assigned yourself a very tough task. But you also sound as if you're up to it.
I cannot add much more to what Aggie suggested. For now, just start shooting - the events are still unfolding.
At a point it time that you will recognize - it will come time to gather everything together and begin to make some "sense" of it.
Well said. And you should do so.
Originally Posted by Salmonoid
If you haven't seen it, I was recently reminded of Pedro Meyer's 'I Photograph to Remember' which you can find on ZoneZero.Com. A great piece and in it he says that sometimes he photographs without even knowing what to feel, the photographs give him time to reflect, later on.
I often find myself in a similar boat -- making the photograph can trap, contain the difficult moments as well as the happy ones.
My condolences to you, and in particular to those (who may very well include you) who are closest to the student.
In a strange way, suicide is a way of trying to communicate.
My suggestion - respond with communication of your own.
That may include creating art - if your instincts say so - follow them.
If your instincts say to communicate your pain to other students, in the hope of dissuading them from following in the deceased student's path, follow them.
If your instincts say comfort the survivors, follow your instincts there.
If your instincts say all three - see if you can follow all three.
If your instincts are supportive and healing, trust them.
And remember, if you feel singled out, that teenage suicide is one of the most prevalent causes of teenage death in North America, and everything you can do to prevent even one other young person from choosing that route is a great contribution.
One further suggestion - ask if any other students are feeling depressed by the death of their fellow student, and show them how they can use photography (or pottery, or poetry, or a thousand other means of expression) to celebrate the life of their fellow student, and express regret at his/her passing.
Thank you for caring.
I'm going through a bit of drama with my dear father in Critical Care right now, so I can sorta understand the pain, sadness, frustration, and impotence of a situation like yours.
I've seriously contemplated suicide and did a halfhearted attempt when I was 14. Frankly, the situation sucks no matter what we try to make of it. I would say definately listen to your students, they might suggest things you'd never even think of. Do what your instinct and your heart tells you. But do something, definately. You care, and thats what matters.