U.K. Campaign Shows the Very Last Photos of Suicide Victims
What would we see in the final candid photographs and videos of folks who made the tragic decision to take their own lives? Expressions of pain and anger? Brows furrowed with despair? Cheeks chapped from too many tears?
Would we see clear signs that they teetered on the edge, weighing an irrevocable choice at the behest of inner demons they could no longer ignore?
In fact, we see nothing of the sort in "The Last Photos," a sobering campaign from U.K. mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). Developed with adam&eveDDB, the initiative features images of actual suicide victims—provided by their families—to show that appearances don't necessarily tell the whole story.
In images captured shortly before they died, the subjects seem joyous, playful and content. "Suicidal doesn't always look suicidal," the ads say, inviting users to a website for more information.
Beth McCarthy's take on "Bring Me Sunshine" drives home CALM's premise in the :90 below. Originally an upbeat ditty popularized by Brit comics Morecambe and Wise, this haunting, ethereal version plays over "happy" home movies that mask severe emotional distress:
"The thought for the brief came when adam&eveNYC CEO Mat Goff noticed a Twitter thread in which bereaved parents, partners and friends shared photos of their loved ones looking carefree just days before their suicide," agency business director Louis Lunts tells Muse. "That observation seemed so common as to almost be a cliché, but we realized nobody had effectively confronted it before."
The push began on Monday, when an installation of 50 mysterious photo-portraits, each 6.5 feet high and brimming with smiles, appeared on London's South Bank. The posters included first names and ages, but no other information.
Click the images to enlarge and scroll through:
By Wednesday, however, the nature of "The Last Photos" was revealed, and fresh signage put the subjects' stories into heartbreaking perspective. During an emotional segment on ITV's This Morning, hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield interviewed Shirley Ballas, star of Strictly Come Dancing, about her brother David, who ended his life at age 44.
David appears in one of the West Bank postings.
The campaign's creators believe public engagement is more important than ever, with suicide now the leading killer of U.K. men under 45, tallying 18 per day and 125 each week.
"One of the more perverse effects of Covid-19 was its ability to desensitize the nation to death data," Lunts says. "After two years of daily updates, we knew the country was sick of grappling with death as a number. We needed a new way to demonstrate the tragedy of suicide. Less mathematical, more human."
"To that end, 'The Last Photo' was built around one core principle: moving from figures to faces," he continues. "While the numbers are dire and continue to climb, the first step in really understanding suicide is to get closer to the people who experienced it."
Here's how CALM CMO Matt Jennings defines the call to action: "We're asking everyone to take a minute to talk about suicide. If we can all start one conversation about suicide, together we can save more lives. Over dinner. In schools. In offices. At the pub. In Parliament. Right across the country. We need to break the silence, smash the stigma around suicide and get everyone talking about it."
"Over half of us wouldn't feel confident in helping someone who is at risk," Jennings says. "But we can help you start these potentially life-saving conversations. We'll give you the tools to help find the words when you don't know what to say, including practical conversation starters. We'll help you spot the behaviors that some people might display when they're struggling, arm you with the info to find expert support if someone is in crisis."
"The Last Photo" will run across TV, OOH, press, display, social and cinema. Along with Ballas, influencers amplifying the message include Professor Green, Jamie Laing, Amber Gill, Joe Marler, Russell Kane, Kem Cetinay and Poorna Bell.
Client: CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Creative Agency: adam&eveDDB
Project: The Last Photo
First Air Date: 22/06/22
Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim
Executive Creative Directors: Ant Nelson and Mike Sutherland
Campaign Creative Team: Andy Clough and Richard McGrann
Head of Production: Ben Sharpe and Jack Bayley
Integrated Agency producer: Amy Simmons
Integrated Assistant Producers: Richard Bailey, Scarlett Rudd
Designer: Scott Silvey
Project Manager: Rasha Noronha
Head of Planning: Will Grundy
Senior Planner: James MacAskill
CEO: Tammy Einav
PR: Jemima Monies, Rachel Geraghty, Shehneal Dhaliwal
Business Director: Louis Lunts
Account Director: Rosie Snowball
Account Manager: Lily Barber
Account Executive: Freddie Reeve
Legal: Trine Odin, Tom Campbell
Chief Executive Officer: Simon Gunning
Chief Marketing Officer: Matthew Jennings
Head of Brand and Marketing: Dipika Saggi
Creative Operations Manager: Sarah McGuire
Creative Director: Danny Wright
Service Operations & Research Manager: James Purnell
PR Manager: Shervin Behzadi
Performance Marketing Manager: Aimee Morrison
Ambassador Lead: Harvey Aspell
Communications Officer – Social & Content: Emma O'Sullivan
Art Director: Sam Quinton
Graphic Designer: Tom Allison
Graphic Designer: George Lee
Brand & Campaigns Manager: Chloe Grass-Orkin
Supporter Operations Manager: Sarah Bodenham
Senior Events Manager: Alicia Mackay
Director: Max Fisher
DoP: Jim Joliffe
Production: Cain & Abel
Executive Producer: Carmen De Witt
Assistant Producer: Jake Parker
Graphic/Print Production: Gareth Evans
Sound Engineer – Parv Thind, Wave
Sound Engineer – Jeff Smith, Wave
Sound Producer – Beth Tomblin, Wave
Editor: James Rosen c/o Final Cut
Colourist: James Bamford c/o Rascal
Colour Producer: Jai Mhach Durban c/o Rascal
Post: James Ireland c/o Cain & Abel
Motion Graphics: Ed Christie c/o Cain & Abel
Photography Researcher: Sunnah Khan
Research Production: Tim Katz c/o Knucklehead
Film Researchers: Josie Cole & Rebecca Lloyd-Evans c/o Six Minutes
Music Supervisor: James Radford c/o Radford Music
Music Track: "Bring Me Sunshine" performed by Beth McCarthy
Music Produced By: James Radford, Morgan Pochin, Ben Robbins
Music Publisher: Chester Music T/A Campbell Connelly & Co
Managing Director: Simon Vaughan c/o Creative Giants
Design Director: Ben Kearns
Event Manager: Victoria Dobrowolska
Producer: Charlotte March
Designer: Alicia Montero
Admin: Patrycja Plociennik
Project Assistant: Sam Williams
Fabrication and Install: Standard8
Location Services: Coinstreet
Retoucher: Georgia Plomer, Jon Webb, Gemma Lawton c/o King henry
Adaptation Production and Supply
Artwork: Dave Callow c/o King Henry
Artwork: Sam Harris c/o King Henry
Account Director: Olivia Sweeting (Persuasion Communications)
Director: Don Ferguson (Hope&Glory PR)
Associate Director: Nicola Burton (Hope&Glory PR)
Head of Strategy: Chris Gilfoy
Strategy Director: Ben Edwards
Commercial Director: Marc Bignell
Website / Digital Team
Digital designer: Mauricio Brandt (C&A), Sam Butler (C&A)
Creative Technology Director: Hash Milhan (C&A)
Digital Producer: Matthew Walker (C&A)
Front End Developer: Jack Christian
Technical QA: Mark Sadler