Makeover Monday | Week 43 | 2019: Generational effects

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Content warning: This post and the data visualisations within it focus on the topic of suicide. If you are not comfortable with the topic, please don’t feel obliged to continue.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact:

  • Samaritans (UK: 116 123)
  • Lifeline (US: 1-800-372 8255)
  • Beyond Blue (AUS: 1300-22 46 36)

Here is the original visualisation:

What works well:

  • It’s a beautiful, thoughtfully designed visualisation that shows the ‘waves’ of suicides and the shift in age over time.
  • The ‘landscape’ style feels very human. Not sure how else to describe it
  • The annotations are useful in explaining the chart.
  • The structure follows a chronological order.

What could be improved:

  • The only thing I would change is the color, because blue – while it looks nice – isn’t the color I would associate with the topic of suicide and death.

What I did:

  • Creating my viz was pretty straight forward, but I struggled with what came afterwards. It’s one thing to visualise data, but it’s another to do it and potentially upset people.
  • Bridget Cogley posted a tweet about handling this topic thoughtfully and being mindful of the impact it can have on people affected.
  • I was stuck and wasn’t sure whether I should publish my viz at all. But I also thought that I’m not sure things are better if we stay quiet about them.
  • So I decided to follow Bridget’s advice and to carefully (hopefully I achieved that) frame my viz with a warning. I also added that warning to my blog post at the top.
  • I didn’t do that to not feel guilty about knowing so very little about the impact of suicide on those who have lost a family member or friend that way. I fully acknowledge that I know very little – too little – about that because I never had to face that situation. Bridget made me realise that I can be as empathetic and caring in my daily life as I want – there are still pains and traumas some people face, which I am completely oblivious to. Thank you, Bridget for helping me see that and become more sensitive!

Here is my viz:

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