Willesden Green mum’s sensitive photography project sheds light on problem of self-harm among teenagers

Jude Wacks's daughter Ellie (L), alongside Harry and Carla, pictured in her Best Days of Your Life p

Jude Wacks's daughter Ellie (L), alongside Harry and Carla, pictured in her Best Days of Your Life photography project. Pictures: Jude Wacks - Credit: Archant

A Willesden Green mum whose daughter battled self-harm has spoken about the hard-hitting photo exhibition she produced to raise awareness of the problem.

Portrait of Abbey, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Abbey, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

Jude Wacks’s Best Days Of Your Life depicts 18- to 20-year-old Londoners who have suffered self-harm – including her own daughter Ellie.

“This project is designed to get you to look, but I didn’t want it to glorify,” Jude told the Brent & Kilburn Times.

“It’s designed to raise awareness, eliminate the taboo and show that everybody has a story.”

She was troubled by children’s tendency to share self-harm photographs online.

Portrait of Alan, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Alan, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks


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“It seems to have become a badge of honour for kids,” she said. “My daughter told me that 60 per cent of her year self-harm.”

But it’s a different story offline. “These kids are so eager to hide it,” said Jude, “to pull down their sleeves, but adults would rather not see it also.

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“Somebody has to want to be aware.”

She added: “If you look and see then you have to do something.”

Portrait of Carla, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Carla, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

Luckily for Jude, her daughter and several of her friends were keen to get involved.

“I wasn’t that worried about taking part in the project,” said Ellie. “I really feel like no change will happen if no one wants to put their personal experience forward.

“The project has allowed me to talk more openly about self-harm. It’s helped open up a healthy dialogue with my mother.”

While the initial two London exhibitions drew a good amount of interest, Jude is now looking to expand the reach of her message.

Portrait of Ellie G, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Ellie G, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

“I’d love to exhibit this project in schools, potentially my daughter’s, as an educational project,” she said. “The whole idea of the project is to stop kids who may be toying with the idea of self-harm from getting drawn down that path.”

Ellie added: “I think it’s valuable for young people to experience a project like this because it is an issue many face and it can help those who suffer feel less alone and understand themselves more.

“It can help people who don’t suffer understand, and possibly learn how to look out for signs to protect their peers.”

View the photos at judewacks.com/projects/

Portrait of Jude Wacks's daughter Ellie, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude

Portrait of Jude Wacks's daughter Ellie, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Hannah, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Hannah, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Harry, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Harry, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project. Picture: Jude Wacks - Credit: Jude Wacks

Portrait of Tom, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project: Jack Colyer

Portrait of Tom, taken for the Best Days Of Your Life project: Jack Colyer - Credit: Jude Wacks

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