WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – When feelings about suicide cannot be expressed verbally, visual expression can sometimes provide that outlet. The Signs of Suicide Project traveling art exhibit is currently on display in the 88th Medical Group Atrium until Friday, March 17.
The Signs of Suicide Project is a community visual arts awareness campaign created by local artists and teens from the K12 Gallery and Teen Educational and Joint Adult Studio located in Dayton, Ohio.
“Having the opportunity to work with a number of community based agencies and organizations, I was made aware of the project,” Capt. Gary Ellis, installation suicide prevention program manager, said. “Rebecca Sargent, program director at K12 Gallery and Teen Education and Joint Adult Studio, and I agreed that this would be an excellent partnership with the community and Wright-Patterson AFB.”
The project is intended to create an awareness and visual voice for the subject of suicide in a way that words may not be able to. The artwork shows the different elements of how one may feel when contemplating suicide as well as provide the views from those who try to comprehend it.
“Often times the topic of suicide is presented to the military community through trainings, lectures and discussions,” said Ellis. “Accordingly, the art exhibition is an interesting and unique way to address this very important topic.”
The displays are made up of 30 visual images painted onto panels covered with honest and direct messages relating to issues of suicide. The panels were created by students who participate in the “Artists in Training” after-school program and also by professional artists. All the artists involved with the project has either personally attempted suicide or know someone who has taken their own life.
Ellis said that when someone may be contemplating suicide, the following behaviors may be possible warning signs:
- Talking about suicide and/or death and dying.
- Giving their belongings away and/or getting their affairs in order.
- Noticing a significant change in the individual's behavior or mood such as appearing to be depressed, feeling hopeless or no longer caring about things that were once important to them.
- Having preparatory behaviors such as purchasing weapons or other items that can be used to facilitate the act.
“When you see someone who appears as though they are intending to hurt themselves, be direct and up front with that person,” said Ellis. “Do not shy away from using the term and ask specific questions about whether that person is having thoughts about killing him/herself. Listen to what they have to say and never leave the person alone, escort them to the nearest emergency room or mental health clinic.”
The exhibit will travel every two weeks over the course of the year to other locations throughout the local community and is expected to reach more than 20,000 people.
Additional information on the K12 Gallery and Teen Educational and Joint Adult Studio Signs of Suicide Project can be found at http://k12tejasgallery.org/sos-traveling-exhibition/.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, active-duty, reserve and guard members can contact the Military One Source Military Crisis line at (800) 273-8255 (press 1), and for civilians, contact the National Suicide Prevention line at (800) 273-8255. Additional resources can also be found at https://www.wingmanonline.org.