Check out this guest post by Whitney Saleski of The Stanley Sessions!
My name is Whitney Saleski. In this photo, I am standing next to my incredible mother, Lisa. We are from Dayton, Ohio.
In October of 2014, my father, Stanley Saleski–a major league scout for the San Francisco Giants–killed himself while away on business in Baltimore, MD. In a few days, his team would go on to clinch the World Series.
All at once, my mother and I were immersed in a confusing whirlwind of depression, isolation, and despair. People’s responses to discussing the manner of my father’s death often lead to curious, twisted faces or–even worse–no reactions at all. It was like losing him twice every time we informed someone of his passing. We mourned his life, and we sobbed for the man we thought we knew. It seemed as though he was a curious, kind-faced stranger who had just slipped out the front door and into oblivion.
I wanted to reach out.
I have always thrown myself into the art world as a means of coping, and following his death, I immersed myself in my photography, which I had practiced since high school. I found that it helped me grieve as I processed my new world.
I started meeting with a local suicide support group, and there, I was introduced to NAMI of Montgomery County Executive Director Michelle Maloy-Kidder. And I had an idea.
I told her that I wanted to photograph suicide survivors like me–both those who have lost someone to suicide and those who have attempted suicide, themselves. Michelle and NAMI offered to sponsor me, and they rented out a studio space, and purchased lights and basic equipment for me.
In honor of my dad, I founded the Stanley Sessions, an ongoing suicide awareness photography project. Our aim is to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide discussion, and to make survivors feel less isolated in their respective journeys. I designed my website, and also run a Sessions Facebook and Instagram.
Both published and unpublished, I have photographed about 25 individuals so far, and my goal is 50 people total. In my journey, I have learned that everyone–to some degree–is impacted by suicide.
My intention is to combine people’s stories and photos into a book that can be available in coffee shops, rehab centers, hospitals, and more.
I want this message to be accessible to all. We can heal and progress together.
When I look at these photos, I do not feel so alone in my struggle. May the same comfort find you.
Project Photographer, the Stanley Sessions: http://www.stanley-sessions.com/
Stanley Sessions on Instagram: https://instagram.com/the_stanley_sessions/
Stanley Sessions on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1CKLPOQ