CALM CEO Simon Gunning discusses moving The Last Photo exhibition

Virgin Radio

23 Jun 2022, 09:03

Snapshots from The Last Photo exhibit

Credit: Instagram (@VirginRadioUK)

Trigger Warning: Suicide.

The boss behind suicide prevention charity CALM has revealed the inspiration behind the organisation's brand new exhibition - The Last Photo. CEO Simon Gunning spoke on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to discuss the new Southbank display, and why we need to change our perception of what struggling with suicidal thoughts ‘looks’ like. 

The new installation comes off the back of new research by the charity which found 125 people die by suicide every week. 

The numbers inspired CALM to reach out to families who have been impacted by suicide, and gather the last known photos of their loved-ones before they took their own life. 

The Southbank exhibit shows 50 pictures of those who died by suicide, with many photos depicting smiling people and happy memories, to demonstrate just how hard it is to spot someone struggling with mental health issues. Each photo is accompanied by stories from friends and families on the shock of losing their loved one to suicide. 

Simon explained to Chris: “When we talk to people who have lost someone by suicide, so frequently they will say it came as a bolt from the blue, nobody expected it, that the person seemed happy or was even the life and soul of the party. 

“When you do a very simple google image search for a suicidal person, you'll see images of people holding their heads in their hands or looking sadly out of windows. The conclusion from that is that suicide doesn't have a look. It doesn't have a distinct set of things that you can look out for. So hence, suicidal, doesn't always look suicidal.”

Discussing the highly emotional images, Simon added: “It's the humanity of it that really strikes me. You look into their eyes and it's us. 125 people a week die by suicide, and that's almost impossible to grasp.

“When you look into those faces, this is not an abstract figure. This is our husbands, wives, mums, dads, tragically our kids, friends and they're us. What we really want to land is to understand that suicide is a part of humanity. We have to deal with it. As such, we have to talk.”

The exhibition is open until 26th June at Riverside Central, London Southbank. All the images and stories can also be viewed on CALM’s website.

At Virgin Radio, we are committed to improving the wellbeing of our audience wherever possible. Whilst we ourselves are not Mental Health experts or qualified to directly assist those in need, we have compiled useful resources to help point you in the right direction, should you need help, at

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.