Franklin James Cook

Attempt Survivor Speaks Out with Art after His Brother’s Suicide

In Advocacy, Grief, Prevention, Stigma on January 28, 2009 at 1:14 am

micartist1ORIGINAL STORY — Reporter Andy Parks, writing for the Northern Rivers Echo in Lismore, Australia, tells the story of Mic Eales, who survived two suicide attempts before his brother Bryan took his life seven years ago.

Bryan’s death was a catalyst for a positive change in Mic’s life. He started harnessing his experiences and creating works of art that deal with the issue of suicide … At the moment he is collecting coffee cups. Mic’s aim is to collect 2101 coffee cups (the latest figure from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for Australians who committed suicide in a year) for a piece he is planning to create.

“It’s about the conversations we don’t have. We have pleasant conversations when we are having coffee, but we don’t go there… If somebody has experienced suicide, we don’t talk about it, we closet it. So I want to be able to open it up to say ‘these are the conversations we need to have.’”

Mic’s creative and provocative way of bringing attention to suicide includes a piece called “Too Few Ladders,” which is based on “‘Snakes and Ladders’ … an ancient Hindu game … used to teach children about the ups and downs of life.”

Mic said most people who had seen Too Few Ladders came up to him and talked about a friend or a cousin who had suicided.

“Everybody knows somebody,” he said.

He still struggles at times with suicidal thoughts, and he deals with them by focusing on his family, meditating, and using “the 12-step program for addicts [adapted] for his own situation.”

Another factor in his survival has been an ongoing correspondence with the daughter of a friend who committed suicide.

“(I tried) to explain to her the pain that somebody goes through: When you get into that dark place, you don’t think about the family. You actually think they are going to be better off without you. They’re weird, twisted thoughts, but they are very real and very logical (at the time). That’s the part you have to fight. You have to be able to look at those thoughts for what they are.”


Pictured is one of Mic's artworks that combines the pages of a phone book (representing how people often hear of a loved one's suicide) and writings, pictures, and images from throughout his own life (representing all that his loved ones would have to remember him by if he had died by suicide), along with an element of "Too Few Ladders."

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