Suicide: a potential and grave threat to the lives of college students

For my slideshow, I focused on the occurrence of suicide among college students and the prevalence of suicide at the University of Denver by including national statistics for suicide among college students and suicide statistics pertaining to the DU student body specifically. By including statistics for suicide, I was hoping to increase the level of awareness students have for suicide as an issue, and, therefore, increase the amount of importance they place on prevention efforts.

Once I established suicide as a prevalent issue, I narrowed in on the leading causes of suicide such as stress and depression as well the most common methods for committing suicide (wrist cutting, self-poisoning, and firearms) in efforts to increase awareness of the signs leading to suicidal thoughts and help students detect those who may be in the contemplative state. After promoting recognition, I focused on ways to help fellow students who may be currently contemplating suicide by highlighting the ways students can be there for other students. As an end goal for this slideshow, I was seeking to encourage students to identify the importance of suicide as an issue and gain an increased desire to promote greater awareness of suicide, and the measures we can take to prevent it from happening to our fellow students.

In efforts to highlight the occurrence of suicide and draw awareness to the issue, I took pictures that evoked the realism and the compelling nature of the issue. To evoke such meaning, I took pictures of students in distressful situations by depicting them as stressed, depressed, hurt, troubled, and/or other such emotions that can lead to contemplative thoughts towards suicide. For this reason, I included a picture of campus in a dreary light, a similarly gloomy picture of students walking to class, and students looking stressed as they studied or did homework.

On a deeper, more symbolic level, I revealed the severity of suicide through depictions of people alone in a dark, uninviting place to represent the intensely grave nature of suicide and the way one feels when contemplating such measures. For this effect, I took a picture of a girl starring out a window, a solemn expression reflected on her face and in her posture. For this picture, I made everything outside the window in color and made her black and white to express the contrast in perceptions. Similarly, I took close-up, framing shots of methods or forms for committing suicide such as prescription drugs to represent overdose and a knife and a gun in someone’s hand to represent the readily available potential to take life through violent measures such as cutting or shooting oneself.  These pictures were all close ups, with the method framed and emphasized through color contrast and shadow, which was achieved by adjusting color toning and related color effects.

On a more empathic note, I took pictures of remembrance such as the white rose with dew drops resembling fallen tears, and pictures of encouragement, which include two friends talking on a close, personal level and a group of friends hugging each other close. I ended the slide with an encouraging quote written on a slip of paper and photographed with sunlight dancing around its edges to show a ray of hope and encouragement for better days.

Through constructing this slideshow, I learned a great deal about the photographic process. I learned how to produce a wide variety of interesting and compelling photographs by taking pictures from different angles and ranges (long shot, medium, close-up), practicing varying levels of intensity with color and shadow through color toning and color effects, and tampering with other visual and digital effects that allow the subject of the photograph to be effectively and dramatically framed and highlighted as to draw the viewer to the subject instantaneously and in the most creative way possible. However, being new to photo editing software, there were a lot of features and effects available for enhancing photographs that I simply did not know how to use, and, therefore didn’t. In the future, I would like to take a photography and photo editing class or at least better familiarize myself with photo editing and digital effects as to increase my photo enhancing abilities. For my next photography related assignment, I would like to improve my framing abilities and depth of field to better highlight the subject of the photograph in a natural and creative way instead of having to rely on digital effects and alterations to achieve this goal.

While my slideshow focused on these same ideals pertaining to suicide awareness and prevention as my issue story did, it differed from my issue story in the sense that it depicted the causes and methods for committing suicide in efforts to elicit a dramatic response within viewers. The dramatic, compelling nature of the photographs pertaining to causes and methods of committing suicide was intended to strike a compelling, emotional response within viewers in order to deepen their emotional reaction to the topic of suicide and, therefore, increase the level of severity they assign to suicide as an issue. The remembrance and encouragement photos served the same purpose of eliciting an emotional response through the expression of empathy. Thus, the main difference between the issue story and the slideshow is the issue story allowed the reader to focus on the informative facts about suicide, whereas the slideshow seeks to elicit an emotional response or reaction from the viewer to heighten their awareness of suicide as a severe issue and increase their desire to prevent suicide.


2 Responses to Suicide: a potential and grave threat to the lives of college students

  • Sarah Ford
    Sarah Ford says:

    I thought this was an exemplary slideshow which really used all the elements of photography we have been learning in class. The way Brenda framed the subjects of the photos and used the effects of light and color really added to the dramatic effect of each photo and transmitted different emotions for each. The pictures captioned with suicide statistics were properly darkened to create a more somber mood, while the bright pictures at the end evoked much happier feelings. I also really liked the grey scale image of the girl inside looking out the colored window, it was a great way to use color to transmit a message and had a big impact when viewing the slideshow.

    Very good job!

  • Samantha Selincourt
    Samantha Selincourt says:

    Overall I think Brenda did a really great job showing the intensity that suicide is. I really liked how the photos seemed to get more clear as the slideshow progressed. She did a really good job in changing the angles and focuses of the photos to depict different emotions and messages. I really enjoyed how the photos not only became clearer but also got lighter and by the end were full of color. With such a touchy subject and one that is often misunderstood I think this slideshow does a very good job to show suicide and the different effects it can have.

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