Suicide Drops Us In A Thousand-Piece Puzzle With No Box Cover - Stab Mag
“The first person I knew who died, was my best friend’s dad and it was by suicide. It tore everything I thought I knew about life to pieces. I like talking about it, I truly believe connection is one of the major solutions to this problem, so the puzzle piece makes sense to me.” - Vaughan Blakey, Jack Freestone, Connor O'Leary and countless other surfers are In Pieces Together ambassadors. Here's why.

Suicide Drops Us In A Thousand-Piece Puzzle With No Box Cover

In Pieces Together is a surfer-lead initiative involving 3000 tattoos and something bigger. 

elsewhere // Sep 12, 2023
Words by Jesse Starling
Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ll be blunt, all of us at some point or another will unwillingly cross paths with suicide. We’ve heard the stories before, we know the statistics and the damage it can cause to a community. 

Right now there are many voices pushing the narrative of suicide prevention, and at the very forefront of that charge is Ben Johnston, President of the Chumpy Pullin foundation and the mastermind behind Blakey Johnston’s (his brother) record breaking 40-hour surf in Sydney earlier this year. 

Ben’s newest initiative is about suicide prevention and 3000 unique tattoos.

“When you’re a piece of something more than yourself you begin to understand your value in the bigger picture… what you contribute. That’s why this really means something to me”..  

Vaughan Blakey
After spending 40-hours in a wetsuit at The Alley, getting stabbed with a needle is a north-easterly breeze.

With skin in the game already from some surf industry heavyweights such as Vaughan Blakey, Jack Freestone, Connor O’Leary, Andy King, Beren Hall, Nick Riley, Otis Carey and countless other surfers, the list of ambassadors shows the extent to which this has affected those in our own backyard.

After being directly affected by suicide himself loosing his Dad over 10 years ago, Ben’s experience with suicide is close to home. Within the past year Ben has raised over $1,000,000 for suicide prevention and began two initiatives that have reached millions of people around the world. 

His latest initiative connect people through a global tattoo statement known as InPiecesTogether.

“Overcoming adversity is something Andy King knows more about than most,” wrote Jed Smith. “It might also be the biggest binding force between he and his young Brazilian charger. King’s father was a career criminal and violent alcoholic who left a disastrous imprint on him as a youth. One that would culminate in King being viciously beaten outside a nightclub by a group of men, leaving him deaf in one ear and ending his surfing career”. Andy and Nadene King, In Pieces Together.

Here Ben explains his thinking behind the project… 

As it turned out, 3000 pieces wasn’t nearly enough. Ben’s initiative underestimated how many people would put up their hand to get inked.

How does this differ from a fundraiser?

“You know we had instances after our dad passed away where people would cross the road if they saw us coming, not because they didn’t love us but because they just didn’t know what to say because in all reality it’s a shit thing to talk about, so this initiative will hopefully break that stigma and those feelings to have open conversations if people are affected by it…

So It’s more than a fundraiser as it’s about promoting a feeling, it’s an initiative about connectedness and support post suicide. The formal health professionals acknowledge insinuation is through connectedness and is a genuine proven way to heal through trauma and mental health – the idea of the puzzle I came up with as an idea is a way to form a genuine connection, as you shouldn’t feel isolated even when things are complex at times”.  

Once I’m tattooed, what then? 

“The tattoo part of it is showing the commitment you have to this life long. The tattoo is a daily reminder that you’ve been impacted and people around you have been also. It’s a larger scale push to do more and say more not only for you but those around you”. 

So there’s 3000 individual tattoo pieces up for grabs, meaning they’ll all be left with that constant reminder, but what about everyone else? Do they just donate and move on? How do you keep them engaged and a part of this too?” 

“Yeah that’s a great point you make, you know we appreciate every donation and anyone who is willing to help, but here your donation goes one step further. Part of your donation goes to creating this large 3D printed puzzle of all the tattoo pieces together, so in reality they will own a piece of this puzzle forever. So even if you aren’t one of the 3000 to be tattooed you can look at this puzzle and feel as though they are a part of this just as much as those tattooed. 

Part of something bigger.

With a fundraising goal of $500,000 for Sydney, the initiative hopes to expand internationally to communities in LA, Rio, NYC and London.

Click here to stay connected.


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