In August 2003, during our senior year of high school, a friend of mine committed suicide. I'd known him since the summer I moved to Florida, and he had quickly become the first friend I made. He was also the first person to tell me I was beautiful, the first to ask me to be his girlfriend, the first boy I ever held hands with...and as quickly as those good firsts happened, he became the first friend I had ever lost to death, the first and only suicide I've ever had to go through (and I pray will be the last), and the first that I ever wrote a slough of downward spiraling poetry and journals about. My senior year was a pretty dark year, filled with the good memories that we would no longer share and with the regrets I had of not speaking much to him since he'd dropped out of high school the year before. I just wanted one more phone call and it would never come.
Years later, I tried to visit the place where he had taken his own life. Within the first 30 minutes, I was over the whole experience. I felt anxious and overwhelmed by a sadness that I hadn't felt in years...and I didn't like it. I avoided the place for several more years. Other than the memory, the place is a beautifully secluded beach (in comparison to other local beaches). It's got whiter sand, taller shore grasses, and rocks that jet into the ocean near the river that empties into the Gulf. Others have enjoyed this beach for years, and continued enjoying it even after his death because they didn't know him and/or didn't know something tragic had happened there, I just couldn't get over what had happened there.
When I started thinking about this idea, and how September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I decided I would turn the location into a personal project. I would shoot a session there, and turn it into something beautiful again. Though my vision wasn't entirely realized (my fault entirely), I was able to get through the session in "his spot" without feeling the same overwhelming sadness that had gripped me the time before. I was most certainly glad for that.
I thought I'd share some of the sessions thus far with everyone. Unfortunately, I am headed out-of-state and haven't had a chance to finish editing the rest. I will update on that as soon as I get back home. Until then, I hope you enjoy the images.
This last set of images was actually shot about 2 week before, in a separate location, but had instantly turned into the inspiration I needed to turn my attention to this subject.
The reasons -
+ yellow and orange are the awareness ribbon colors for suicide and self-harm prevention. \
+ the mask, which I felt was a representation of the taboo nature of the topic amongst those who are feeling as if this may be their only option and amongst the friends/family of those who have been lost due to suicide
+this set of images was shot only a few days shy of the 9 year anniversary of his death, so it was weighing heavily on my mind as it does each year during his birthday and then.
And thank you, Connie, for be such a willing model for this project! I couldn't have done it without you.