Vice’s ‘Suicide Fashion’ Shoot Pulled, Mag Apologizes

Magazine Vice’s “suicide fashion” spread (titled “Last Words”) featuring stylized depictions of female authors and the various ways they’ve ended their lives has been pulled from the title’s site after outcry, but the printed version still carries the controversial spread.

The Vice suicide fashion commotion erupted after the shocking spread hit the web, featuring models depicted as prominent females who’d committed or attempted suicide and with images illustrating their actual or near demises.

The UK’s Independent describes some of the Vice suicide fashion “looks,” and the actual events by which they were inspired:

“Other featured authors included historian Iris Chang, novelists Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sanmao, a Taiwanese author who hanged herself with a pair of stockings. Vice included a fashion credit for the tights. Poet and writer Dorothy Parker, who actually died of a heart attack, aged 73, also featured. A model recreates an attempt by Parker to kill herself by slitting her wrists when she was in her early 20s.”

Britain’s Guardian reports that suicide coverage has some unintended and detrimental effects on public health, noting that lack of reporting upon suicide has decreased rates:

“If you live in London, you’ll regularly hear announcements about passenger incidents and delays due to a person under a train, but you won’t find them routinely written up in the Evening Standard. That’s for a very good reason: the Samaritans quote studies from Vienna and Toronto where voluntary restrictions on reporting subway suicides reduced their occurrence by 75%.”

Where Vice‘s suicide fashion spread was once located, the mag now features an apology for hurt feelings caused by the spread but does not acknowledge the issues raised by The Guardian.

On the mag’s site, a statement begins:

“Last Words” is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue, one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.

It continues:


The fashion spreads in VICE Magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.

Vice‘s suicide fashion statement concludes:

“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.

While many have noted that the Vice suicide fashion spread mainly featured incidents long past, Chang died in 2004, leaving behind a toddler son.

[Image: Vice Magazine]