THE SAMMY PROJECT
DESTIGMATIZING MENTAL HEALTH
A PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW IN HONOR OF SAM YEAGER
FIRST, I WANT TO THANK THE PARTICIPANTS for their bravery in sharing their personal statements and portraits in a public forum. It takes great courage to write about one’s mental health, which traditionally is kept very private. In doing so, the participants take agency over their struggles, and we honor our son, brother, grandson, friend and neighbor, Samuel Boone Yeager, whose life was cut short in 2021. Had he felt comfortable to talk about his mental illness and ask for help, Sam would likely still be here today. In addition to remembering him on the one-year anniversary of his death, the mission of this photography show is to lay the foundation toward destigmatizing mental health. With suicide on the rise (Colorado is fifth in the nation)—as well as the impact COVID has had on everyone’s psyches—having an open attitude about our internal struggles is more important than ever before. If people could talk as easily about mental health as they can about diabetes or any other ailment, countless lives would be improved and saved.
The Sammy Project was a year in the making. My sincerest desire is to provide hope and healing for all who grieve the loss of Sam and who battle their own internal demons. These portraits were first revealed in an opening reception and solo exhibition on April 2, 2022 at the Katy Tartakoff Photography gallery in downtown Denver.
In the future, my wish is to publish the finished project as a book. The stories shared here could help others to understand they are not alone, bringing forth self-acceptance and a knowing that living a happy, successful life is completely within their reach. I am looking for additional volunteers to build on what we have started here. If you are interested in participating, please send me a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With deep appreciation and for the love of Sam,
Rest in Peace Samuel Boone Yeager—July 1997–April 2021