A strong interest in mental health issues led recent BA Photography graduate Suzy Warner-Nicholas to discover and document some of the UK's most notorious suicide locations. In her final year project, 'Last Seen', Suzy adopts the viewpoint of those who have chosen to end their lives and asks her viewers to take on a similarly sympathetic perspective.
"Many people's lives have been affected by suicide, and yet even with our ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of mental health issues and why people choose to end their lives, it remains a topic that is largely taboo," Suzy explains. "Through my photographs, I am asking the viewer to gaze upon the last scene of the suicide. I believe that through open dialogue, society will be able to engage with people who may be struggling with life and see suicide as the only way out."
Creating the photo series was a moving experience for Suzy; she found that two locations resonated with her the most.
"The first was in Whitstable – a footpath/ railway crossing. Standing in the middle of the train tracks, knowing that was exactly what people had done to end their lives was an incredibly strange feeling," she explains. "One of the photos I wanted to get of that location was of a train going past, so I crouched by the tracks and waited. I could hear the noise of the train through the tracks before I saw it; when the train raced by at 50mph, being less than five feet away from that sheer mass of metal was utterly terrifying.
"The second location that affected me was Beachy Head [in East Sussex]. The whole clifftop had an overwhelming sense of sadness and loneliness. I was feeling quite chirpy before I got out of the car and started walking, but the atmosphere of the place completely altered my mood. I went to many places for this project, but nowhere else made me feel like Beachy Head did."
Suzy has been developing her personal style during her undergraduate degree; a theme she finds herself coming back to is looking at the everyday from a different point of view. "I think what has become clear through my projects is that I have a great interest in showing people things that are familiar, but showing them in a new way, in an attempt to provoke new ideas and conversation," she explains.
Suzy will return to Middlesex this year to commence a masters degree in Photography. "The aim is to keep learning, keep honing my skills and build a body of work that I am truly proud of."