It started with a picture, morphed into a personal project, then exploded into a movement that provides a safe, stigma-free, healing space for those personally affected by attempted or completed suicide.
#HistoryHero Mariangela Abeo has captured 100+ portraits of folks traumatized by suicide, whether attempter, 1st-responder, close friend or family member. Posted on Instagram at @facesoffortitude, each portrait provides an opportunity for those also in grief to share their stories, offer support, and feel supported. It’s an online forum for community healing — a place where mental health and wellbeing are being discussed through storytelling.
So simple. So organic. Just like its origin story…
Mariangela struggled mentally as a teen and survived a suicide attempt at 17. She later lost her only brother to suicide. About 18 months ago, she snapped a self portrait and shared it on Instagram, describing her personal grief around his loss.
Her feed exploded. Friends and strangers showed up to share their stories of struggle and survival.
Buoyed by this, she taught herself portrait photography (her pictures are exquisite) and inadvertently kicked off a movement that has opened the discussion — and theory — around how people on all sides of the mental health issue can support each other.
Faces of Fortitude makes real how mental illness affects family, community, nation, and world health. It has proven the power of storytelling and cross-narration to help people heal.
Through the project, Mariangela has also healed. Her best mental health-related advice: Celebrate your wins.
“We are so focused on what is going wrong in our lives, we rarely celebrate what we have moved through. Whether it’s big, like abuse, addiction or mental illness—or smaller wins (that are just as important!) like making the bed, going for a walk, reading a book, staying in bed all day because you need it, etc.”
Looking at her 100+ Faces, one sees brave souls courageously sharing their pain — and their truth — in order to help others in their grief.
Thank you, Mariangela, for making so many feel seen, heard, and validated. Yours is a win to be celebrated!