A giant statue of a youngster in a bright yellow coat sitting down in an attitude of despair will be calling attention to the problem of depression and suicide among young people in the coming months.
“Suicide among the young is a taboo subject and that is why people are not sufficiently aware it’s there,” artist Saskia Stolz, who called the work Stille strijd (silent battle), told broadcaster NOS.
Last year, 67 youngsters under 20 and 214 young adults between 20 and 30 ended their lives, figures show. An average of six youngsters kill themselves every week, making it the main cause of death for the age group.
The huge and brightly coloured statue, which was unveiled on the capital’s Museumplein on Wednesday, prompted many comments, from locals and tourists alike. One teen said he struggled with suicidal thoughts. “I felt nobody was listening and I was in a struggle with myself,” he told local broadcaster AT5.
Another said he’d “discuss feelings of depression with close friends. I would not go to anyone else but I know that that is the way to get out of the situation,” he said.
One American tourist said he pitied youths who, he said, “had so many more pressures on their lives to deal with”.
“I have noticed that many people are taking selfies with the statue, which is great. The statue looks bright, but this person clearly has a problem, even if we don’t know exactly what it is. But he is embraced. Everybody hugs him and shares him on social media. And that is what we aim for: pay attention to him,” Stolz said.
The statue has a QR code that provides more information about the project. It will remain on Museumplein in Amsterdam for the next two weeks and will then be shown around the country.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can chat with someone anonymously at www.113 or ring the free number 0800-0113.
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