There are estimated to be between 300 and 400 suicides and parasuicides on the tidal part of the Thames each year. Most of these are from London’s bridges and in 2012 the London Coast Guard reported 383 incidents. Very few suicides on the Thames are brought to our attention by the media. According to the Office of National Statistics in 2011 suicide was the leading cause of death in 5-34 year olds. Incidents from London’s Thames bridges have more than doubled between 2007 and 2012. On average there is now more than one incident a day on the Thames’ bridges.
Most of us have looked over the edge of a bridge, down into the water. It maybe whilst watching to see whose stick is the winner whilst playing Poohsticks or enjoying the playfulness of the water. Or it might be more contemplative, watching the allure of the water, possibly even imagining what it might be like to jump with no intention of actually doing so. A less common thought, though, is that of the person who is looking down into the water as they decide to jump to end their life.
This series of images hopes to enable an emotional engagement with a very personal and intense issue - the issue of a person feeling their only option is to take their own life. The images are an abstraction. They place the viewer in the position of a person in despair. Might it be that the person in despair is actually very similar to you and me?
The images are made from the bridges over the Thames, close to suicide and parasuicide sites. Looking down onto the water they show the viewpoint of someone contemplating their next step. If they should decide to jump then this will be where they enter the water, where their skin meets the river’s. The images hope to show that moment of tension, of contemplation, reflection on life‘s struggles, of the impending freedom...
I am currently working on a new project on suicide and parasuicide. If this is a subject close to you and you would like to get involved please do get in touch.
Too often, a landscape can be pulled from the vibrations
Of the brain’s cold fibres and held, not as a mirror
That is too reflecting - but more as a window
Against the fertile pushing of odd memories that seek
To strike organization, reason and rationality
Into the events remembered because of their reflection
Of bitter evil, stupidity, and the inheritance of education;
And all too obscurely, traversing that slender window,
The large images rise, the coloured landscapes,
The face we sought to love but ended in leaving,
The moments of loneliness, the dark long lines
Of reminiscences, cluttering our wherefores and geographies,
The moods, the lighting of cold fires in far-gone winters.
David J. Murray, from the book Surface Tension