CMU Silence Shoot Campaign Sparks Conversation About Suicide

Each year almost 45,000 Americans die by suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

But a photography campaign that started at Central Michigan University is trying to change those numbers by encouraging people to have a conversation about bullying and suicide.

A CMU student started the silence shoot campaign back in 2011.

Now the photos can be seen all over social media.

“In high school, I have experienced bullying. I was the only openly gay person in school,” said Matthew Pruitt.

Matthew Pruitt is an attempted suicide survivor now giving hope to others with a flash of his camera.

“The silent shoot is a photography campaign where people get their photograph taken with red tape on their mouth and we edit it black and white except for the tape and it’s a way to begin conversations about suicide and bullying because there’s a big stigma about the conversation involved with it,” said Pruitt.

But the contrast between the photo and the tape isn’t just to create an interesting image.

It’s a way to spark a conversation about difficult topics like suicide.

“The goal is that when someone publishes a photo like that someone will comment on that photo and be like what is this and it will initiate a conversation about it and maybe that person is dealing with either of those and they can start that conversation with that person and it flourishes from there,” said Pruitt.

Every year the silent shoot campaign hosts an event on campus in partnership with the CMU Offices of LGBTQ Services.

“It’s a way for them to stand in solidarity of victims of bullying as well it’s a way for them to say hey I’m with you I support you I’m part of this community here’s a visual representation,” said Markie Heideman, CMU LGBTQ services Public relations Intern.

“I know how daunting it is to make that first step to actually initiate conversation but more often than not it will help,” said Pruitt.

The Silence Shoot campaign is featured in other states like Delaware and Pennsylvania but it all started right here in Northern Michigan.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, click here for resources.