Health

Experimenting with death to save lives

Published 0144 GMT (0944 HKT) December 14, 2015
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People sit in wooden coffins at the Hyowon Healing Center in Seoul, South Korea. It's where groups of people who might be struggling with depression, stress or suicidal thoughts go to act out their own funerals. After the emotional, personal experience, some seemed to leave feeling happier, photographer Françoise Huguier said. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
According to Huguier, the men and women get into the coffins as lights are lowered. The lids are closed for 10 long, quiet minutes. There are holes in the coffins so the participants can breathe. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
When the coffins were reopened, the reactions varied, Huguier said. Some people cried from claustrophobia; others were asleep. Some seemed lighter and happier. Some took selfies. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
A boy has his photo taken at the Hyowon Healing Center. After participants arrive, their portraits are taken in the same style as photos found on the coffins of dead people, Huguier said. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
These are funeral portraits of the participants. Huguier said. South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
Each participant puts on a traditional funeral costume and writes their farewells to be read before the group. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
Participants pose with their funeral portraits. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU
Candles are lit during the ceremony. Huguier said she doesn't believe the experience will reduce suicides; it felt to her like a business designed to make money. But it could help those who believe in it, she said. Francoise Huguier/Agence VU