Powerful ‘Last Photo’ Exhibition Shows People Can Be Suicidal And Still Smile

A series of portraits, each over two meters high, smile at passers-by on London’s South Bank, along the River Thames.

The images are part of a new exhibit, The Last Photo, created by suicide prevention charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) to show the many faces of suicide.

Tragically, there are currently 125 people who die by suicide every week in the UK, but 61% of people say they would find it hard to tell if someone they knew was feeling suicidal. The poignant outdoor gallery displays photos taken in the last days of the lives of 50 people.

One of the faces shown is that of Rob Bell, the late husband of author and journalist Poorna Bell. Rob died by suicide in 2015 at the age of 39.

The photo, taken by Poorna, shows Rob waiting for a train after a James Taylor performance a few months before he died. “He couldn’t stop smiling and hummed Something In The Way She Moves,” Poorna recalled. Seeing the six-foot-tall portrait of her husband on the Southbank brought up “a great mix of emotions”.

Poorna Bell visits the Southbank to see her husband Rob's portrait.
Poorna Bell visits the Southbank to see her husband Rob’s portrait.

“It was incredibly difficult to see his photo under the summer sky, considering why he’s there, and the 49 other people in the exhibit. But it was also very beautiful and poignant,” she tells HuffPost UK.

“Suicide is a death that can overshadow what we remember about someone’s life, and seeing his smiling face, and remembering the moment I took that photo brought back a lot of good memories, as well as the sad ones.”

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