Havas Chicago, which has a history of using its lobby as an activation space, held a somber event there last Thursday—an experience called the “11 Minutes Funeral Home,” addressing the suicide epidemic and urging people bring conversation about suicide out of the shadows.
The installation included a hearse parked outside, along with a staged memorial service inside—with a casket, flowers and a ticking clock marking one more death by suicide every 11 minutes in the U.S.
Passersby were invited inside to experience the activation, held during National Suicide Prevention Week. Will Russell, the agency’s lead strategist behind the exhibit, who lost a friend to suicide a year ago, said the goal was to get people talking about mental health.
“Today’s message is crystal clear,” he said. “Our primary objective is to illuminate the imperative of not shying away from these lifesaving discussions. It’s paramount to recognize signs, engage earnestly, and understand that these dialogues have a profound potential to change lives.”
Myra Nussbaum, the agency’s president and chief creative officer, who has also lost a friend to suicide, said mental health conversations should “emerge from the shadows. They need to be as commonplace as any other health discourse. Today’s initiative stands as a bold proclamation: Start the conversation, extend your support, and together we can make a difference.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 12.3 million people thought about suicide last year, 3.5 million people made a plan to kill themselves, 1.7 million people attempted suicide and more than 48,000 died by suicide.
Suicide prevention has been a higher-profile cause in recent years, thanks in part to campaigns such as “The Last Photo” from adam&eveDDB and CALM in the U.K.
Havas Chicago has used the ground-floor lobby at its River Park offices as an activation space for years—most memorably for several breast-cancer exhibits from 2015 to 2017, including what appeared from the outside to be a peep show but which featured nude black mannequins painted with sobering facts about breast cancer.