Death Wooed Us by Donna J. Wan
There are some questions about the project that I have asked at the end. If you want to join in the conversation feel free!
Photographer Donna J. Wan's newest series examines a very personal, yet universal, experience with the consideration of suicide. Through self exposure and deep thinking, Donna is able to portray the last visual moments before making that fateful decision.
Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss, and most of us either misunderstand it or try to avoid talking about it all together. Yet millions of people suffer from depression and have personally experienced despair so great that they considered suicide.
Many suicidal people travel near or far to well-known or obscure natural places to end their lives. These places are often times near water, mountains or valleys.
Here is what Donna writes about her work Death Wooed Us:
"The photographs in this project attempt to capture the views of these settings. Using research gathered from media reports, I found several locations in the Bay Area and travelled to them. I walked along the paths taken by these people before they ended their lives. Most of these photographs were taken from bridges, including the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most well-known “suicide destinations,” but also lesser-known beaches and overlooks. I purposely photographed from the perspective of looking up at the sky, down at the water or crags, or straight ahead but far away, thinking that these views might have resembled the ones seen by others moments before dying. Many of my images have a hazy and elusive quality, which I believe reflects the clouded state of mind of the suicidal."
"Yet I do not pretend to know why others really chose the specific locations that they did. Nor do I claim to know what they were truly thinking before they jumped, hanged or drowned themselves. The reason behind each suicide is highly personal and, often, an enigma to the ones left behind. But I do believe that there have been others, like me, who wanted to die surrounded by a beautiful landscape. One survivor even said there was a “certain grace and beauty” about dying from the Golden Gate Bridge."
"There are some who may think that my photographs romanticize these places of death. I can understand that point of view, although that is not my intention. Death is not beautiful – in fact, jumping from a bridge 200 feet high is a very painful and violent way to die. Yet the sublimity of these places continues to lure people to them. I do not intend for my work to glorify the allure of these places. Instead, I hope that it may offer a glimpse into the minds of those who may have thought that dying by these beautiful places was a peaceful way to end their suffering. As the poet Louise Gluck wrote in her poem “Cottonmouth Country,” “Death wooed us, by water, wooed us By land…"
What do you think of this project and how it portrays the subject matter of suicide?
If you have a family member, friend, or acquaintance that have been to affected by this awful disease does it change the tone of these photographs?
At first glance these images my seem beautiful, but their meaning and purpose is really haunting. How does that make you feel about the work?