This article deals with the topics of suicide and depression.
The huge statue of a boy in a yellow jacket on the Akerkhof, next to the Vismarkt, is difficult to miss. He seems distressed and is surrounded by many flowers, candles, and pictures of young people, which undoubtedly gives off a sombre feeling. But why exactly is he here and where did he come from?
The artwork is meant to spark discussions about suicide — the leading cause of death for people under 30 in the Netherlands according to figures published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), including in Groningen. Of all the teenagers who died in 2022, one in five took their own lives. The suicide rate for men in the Netherlands is twice that for women.
The statue near the Vismarkt was created by artist Saskia Stolz who believes that this increased rate for men is likely linked to societal pressures that men feel to not talk about their feelings.
This taboo is exactly why the statue, which is part of a campaign called Silent Battle (Stille Strijd), is in Groningen for the coming week.
Stolz, who is also behind the organisation Power of House Art, wants to draw attention to young people who feel depressed but don’t open up about it. Especially when people hide their battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. This makes it less noticeable to the outside world, even people close to those suffering.
However, some users on social media commented that the boy in yellow is expressing his emotions rather clearly. In response, Stolz said her work tries to show that it’s ok for people to express emotions – and that includes men.
This artwork, that’s travelling throughout the Netherlands to draw attention to this subject, will be in Groningen until the 29th of January.
If you are worried about someone around you or you struggle with suicidal thoughts or depression yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can call 0800-113 or 113 anonymously and free of charge or chat with them on www.113.nl
In case of emergencies dial 112.