In the past 3 years I’ve spent a great deal of time photographing, interviewing and editing the stories of suicide survivors around the world, and subsequently reflecting deeply on the mental state of the person they loved and lost to suicide. On my father’s mental state too, and the things he and they might have done differently to result in a happier outcome. I accept there will never be answers to our heartbreaking questions of ‘why?,’ but in the course of my research I have been thoroughly convinced of two things.
I know this because I’ve been there. When I first began to address my dad’s suicide, six long years after his death, I simultaneously began interviewing other suicide survivors and soon found that I was overwhelmed by sadness. In typical Kerry fashion, I did not walk around the fire, I went straight into it, fanning the flames as I approached. It was a battle to find my way back to my natural state of optimism and a true sense of happiness, one that I was glad to wage because the lessons I learned were invaluable.
But I did not do it alone. Nobody should try to do this alone.
In the coming weeks I will share with you some of the resources I found to be useful tools, ranging from self help books to TED Talks, to documentaries and soul stirring movies. I hope they might help you too, should you ever find yourself in a place that is more grey than technicolor.
To begin, take a look at this website: Action for Happiness – download the Happiness Action Pack under “Resources” and see if you’re able to put these tips into action and get a little more spring in your step.
Then, click on the image above of the two small boys I photographed in Cuba. Despite living in one of the (resource) poorest neighborhoods in Havana and having so little they were sharing a single pair of roller skates, these boys were without question two of the happiest kids I have ever had the pleasure of watching at play.
Filled with an absolute joy for life, I watched them laugh together as they skated on a single skate each, up and down, up and down, up and down the street for more than an hour. I could not leave even though I had other places to be and people to see. I can’t help but compare that to so many children the same age I’ve seen in the USA and Australia who have everything by comparison, yet it still seems never enough. Are we conditioning our kids for discontent?
Through their genuine pleasure in what they each had (a roller skate!), and their complete disinterest in what was lacking (a second roller skate), these two small boys in Centro Habana delivered one of my sweetest memories and a powerful lesson in finding happiness wherever you are, with whatever you have.