“Worldwide, the prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to basically a lack of awareness of suicide as a major problem. The strong taboo on suicide that still exists and the distress it arouses and has aroused throughout history make it difficult to approach the problem of suicide in an open way. To this day, suicidal behaviour is associated with shame, uneasiness and guilt. However, by openly discussing suicidal thoughts they turn from a problem to be hidden to a problem to be solved”

(“Multisite Intervention Study On Suicidal Behaviours – SUPRE-MISS: Protocol of SUPRE-MISS” by World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002; page 87)

Project ATTEMPTERS: devoted to those who attemted suicide

Photography and realization: Nadia Elpis

Do we ever ask ourselves, why a manager in a big company is afraid to loose his job or as minimum loose some clients if somebody finds out that when he was young he tried to kill himself? We tend to put a “weirdo” label on those whose behavior is different from what we expect. The problem of suicidal behavior is not as distant to us as we might think of it. We simply refuse to see it and discuss it openly.


Attempters – people, of different age, sex, nationalities and social backgrounds, who have attempted suicide and are willing to break the silence, to openly talk about their experience, and this way to begin the dialogue.


  • To draw attention to the gap and mutual misunderstanding that persistently appears between the attempter and the society.
  • To talk about the “life after an attempt” and ways of dealing with it.
  • To look closely upon certain feelings that attempters experience – such as shame, uneasiness, feeling of guilt, feeling of being abnormal, outsider, feeling of isolation and pain – and channel their energy into a positive message.
  • To investigate an ambiguous situation that we – the society – often put the attempter into, by showing our ignorance, misunderstanding, fear and disrespect towards somebody, who once happened to step out of the circle of “normal” people.
  • To break the silence, to shake off the taboo, to challenge the stigma that seem to be glued to the notion of suicide and suicidal behavior.


The project “Attempters” is a mixture of journalistic and artistic approaches. It combines many elements.

The main body of the project consists of the series of portraits of attempters with their eyes closed. Some people ask me why their eyes are shut. I usually say to that: “Why do YOU think they are?” Here you have a touch of symbolism and I don’t like to give my own interpretation of it.

What you see on the background is a place or environment that has tight emotional links to the hero. Each participant chooses her own place to be photographed at. Thus, there are two characters in each picture – the attempter and her surrounding. They live different lives but they are strongly connected to each other.

Each participant of the project has written a few lines about their story – their experience, feelings, aspirations, hopes, views, and anything else they wanted to share with the  people who would see  portraits of them. Moreover, I have recorded their “stories” and now you can not only read them, but listen to them. The written text are presented in two languages – French and English. However, the audios are recorded in the original language – English, French, Russian, or any other one that is native to the participant. Look at those faces, listen to those voices, read those words…

In addition to the portraits, the stories and the audios there are photo installations. A short video art is soon to be created. Other ideas are on their way to realization and there are many more which are yet to be discovered. The project “Attempters” is literally alive. Born at the end of 2008, it grows and develops, its shapes change: it has set its goals and the major line, but it is ready to take unexpected turns.


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