(Un)expected is a memorable photo project about the coping process of surviving relatives of suicides in West Flanders.
In 2008 the mother of documentary photographer Peter Dekens (BEL) took her life and just recently a friend did the same. West Flanders, the region where he grew up, has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe, one and a half times higher than the European average and twice as many as the Netherlands. Every month in West-Flanders 20 people commit suicide.
During his research Dekens came into contact with people who had experienced a suicide of a loved one. For some this happened totally unexpected, for another the traumatic event was not unexpected at all.
About the Book
(Un)expected contains five stories about the grief of survivors of suicide and the way people cope with their loss in different ways: the sadness, the grieving process, but also the attempts at finding a new way to live.
There is the story of Hanne who takes a daily walk to the woods for months to sit by the tree where Ime took his life. We see how Dekens’ father who continues to perform household tasks on autopilot after his wife’s death. How José repeatedly feels the emotion on the train ride as she passes the spot where Steven left his life. The pain and the fight against depression of Kris who lost her son. And the children of Walter who have to cope with the loss of their mother.
Dekens hopes that the book will play a socially useful role, and that it is seen by caregivers, general practitioners, specialists, nurses and students in psychology, psychiatry and social work. But above all, he would like the book to be a support for survivors and make the taboo regarding suicide widely debatable.
About Peter Dekens
Peter Dekens graduated in 2012 on the documentary photography course at AKV St. Joost in Breda, The Netherlands. His new project follows a larger field of research where Dekens want to make social-sensitive matters visible. Recently, he focused on the social consequences of blindness, disability and sex, and the life of a family on the periphery of society. His previous book Touch (a portrait of a blind boy) got international attention and was nominated for the DutchDoc Awards, the most important award in the field of documentary photography in the Netherlands.
Review by Jörg Colberg (CPM)
Review by Colin Pantall
Other books by Peter Dekens: