#silent struggle

suicide is the number 1 cause of death among young people under the age of 30 in the Netherlands

every month an average of 24 young people die by suicide

being vigilant and speaking up can save a young person’s life

view the stories of marjolein, martin, lotte and ginny below

they all once attempted suicide



is 14 years old and is in 3 havo (Dutch high school). He enjoys gaming, watching movies and cycling. Martin attempted suicide a few months ago.

“Since primary school I have struggled with myself. At school I was bullied, so I hated school. I didn’t feel safe there. It was one of the reasons why I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. But it wasn’t the only reason. I went to a children’s coach early on, but that never really helped. I made myself very sick, so sick that sometimes I even lost my voice. My mind was making me physically sick.

In high school I fell further and further away. I had feelings that I didn’t understand and that I couldn’t deal with. I hardly had contact with students in my class because I kept getting sick and missed a lot of school. That made me stressed, which made it worse mentally. As a result, I also missed all the social moments and became isolated. I was no longer part of the class. And so I was in a negative vicious circle. That is still going on. I now have examination weeks and I always get sick of the stress before a test. School is very important to me and I really want to do well. 

In addition, I have been diagnosed with mild autism. I think differently from other children and that sometimes makes communication with peers and teachers a bit more difficult.

I’ve been tiptoeing my entire life. Literally.

I’ve been tiptoeing my entire life. Literally. Therefore I have very muscular calves. That was also one of the reasons why I used to be bullied. If you walk differently, it will be noticeable. Always walking on your toes isn’t very healthy of course. I could no longer stand normally; I was always on my toes. I have been in recovery for some time now. I had a cast and physiotherapy and now I have special insoles that allow me to walk normally.

During the Covid lockdown, the GGZ (Dutch Association of Mental Health and Addiction Care) conducted an investigation to see how students were doing. It came to the surface that I was not doing so well and I was immediately sent to a psychologist and later a psychiatrist was added. I’ve been on medication ever since. Nevertheless, the past year became very dark for me, I had sunk very far. Then I made an attempt.

What helps me is distraction. As much as possible. To do things. Fun things, stupid things, as long as I keep busy. As long as I keep busy I’ll be fine. If I don’t do anything, my mind will end up in a bad place. Since my attempt, things have been changing for me. It’s still unstable. One hour I’m very happy, the next hour I’ve suddenly sunk very far away. That will be a permanent thing. But overall I’m doing better and I’m glad my attempt didn’t work out. 

If I don’t do anything, my mind will end up in a bad place.

It would be very helpful if this subject would be accepted by everyone and the taboo would be lifted. That it can be talked about with people your age without being laughed at or seen as less than the other. The subject is now rather avoided than talked about. That’s a shame, because the conversation actually helps.

The conversation with adults is going well, especially with my parents. They are very open and I can discuss everything with them and I can be completely myself. Luckily we have a very good relationship. But teachers at school indicate that they find the subject too complicated and cannot do anything with it. I think that’s a shame, because that’s why we don’t talk about it in class.

Since my attempt, I go to a daytime activity after to school where young people come who all have ‘something’. They all have trouble fitting in at school. Some are hyperactive, others are gloomy or whatever. There we do nice things like sports, multimedia, making music. That’s really nice and I can be completely myself there. Because everyone is different and no one is surprised when someone does something strange.

People always want an identifiable reason why someone is depressed, but there just isn’t always one. You can also feel bad without anything going on. I can suddenly feel bad while doing something fun with people I like. I can suddenly feel really bad because of one thing someone says or does. It feels more like a disease.

People always want an identifiable reason why someone is depressed, but there isn’t always one.

Social media doesn’t help either. Everyone shows how happy they are and how perfect everything is going. If you don’t show that, then you are different or less. I know that that perfect picture is not right, but still.

Later I want to be in politics. I have very strong ideas about how the Netherlands should proceed. I find politics very interesting and I really enjoy debating.

I may even start my own party.”

Name and photo have been changed.



#stillestrijd is an art project by the power of art house

we want to break the taboo on suicide among young people

need help?

call 24/7 anonymously and for free with 0800-0113 or chat on 113.nl/english