empathy

The Art Of Preventing Suicide

As we walked around the Preview Berlin Art Fair, interviewing ecstatic gallery owners besides works with red dots – letting us know the fortune of a sold work – I was happy to find Sonja Müseler and her part in a special project. Lured in initially by those red dots but staying to speak about something worth much more: Life. 

Life Has No Red Dot

Once a year, a project is started where artists are given a platform where to showcase their works, with over 50 pieces having been already donated by Berlin galleries and artists. Sonja Müseler, an educator who trains crisis-prevention volunteers at Telefonseelsorge is hoping it will reach 70 before the annual auction on the 12th of November. Promoting a cause that can be disregarded in it’s gravity, Müseler tells me why she is happy that works have sold (but it’s secondary to the main goal). "It’s not so much if we sell something, it’s more important that we are able to talk about suicide prevention and not leave it in the dark. This is what’s important." Whatever is sold is reinvested in programs for suicide prevention. This year, there's a special focus on suicide prevention in youth, some of the most susceptible members of society. "We are especially focusing on young males as they keep things to themselves regarding emotions," she tells me.

We were drawn in by the red dot but found so much more inside this booth. Photo: Chris Phillips

Growing up in a small town and being gay, suicide is a dull blade I’ve held. Having no one to talk to is always a burden of many teenagers. Thankfully, with understanding parents and a support network around me, I never looked down the road of despair much farther than a glance. Müseler stresses though the importance of having available an anonymous and non-judgmental voice to those in need, the phone lines of Telefonseelsorge being busy day and night.

Donated artwork of Lars Teichmann's 'Neon Ruler' To be sold for suicide prevention. Photo: Chris Phillips

Art was always a therapy to me: keeping a journal, painting or drawing a self-dialogue with myself to show that I was hurting. Artists are often emotionally deep; at times turbulent and unpredictable—the answers we seek come in forms of colors. For some of us, art can heal our pain.For those not able to express their true thoughts and vent despair in an artistic matter, we have to show them that being honest is ok and that the world will understand.The response from Preview Berlin and other artists with wanting to donate work in the future has been uplifting. Meeting Sonja put my soul at ease by showing the heart and humanity of art, and reminding us that the life is worth more than a mere red dot.

To Donate, volunteer or for more information on Telefonseelsorge Berlin please visit their website

Article by Tristan Boisvert