(Un)expected is a memorable photo project about the coping process of surviving relatives of suicides in West Flanders.
In 2008 my mother took her life and just recently a friend did the same. West Flanders, the region where I 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 my research I 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.
(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 my father who continues to perform household tasks on autopilot after my mother’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.
I hope 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, I would like the book to be a support for survivors and make the taboo regarding suicide widely debatable.

Photographer(s): Text:
Peter Dekens Peter Dekens, Dirk De Wachter
Format: Pages:
20,8 x 29 cm 144
Design: Images:
Rob van Hoesel 85
Publisher: Binding:
The Eriskay Connection Cahier
Printer: Printing:
Wilco Art Books Offset
Date: Edition:
September, 2016 600
Breda, The Netherlands