• 06.25.13

Suicidal Cries For Help Hide In Plain Sight Via Shape-Shifting Graffiti

A new ad for suicide-prevention group Samaritans of Singapore displays graffitied messages with opposite sentiments when viewed upside down.

Sometimes the writing is on the wall, and you still can’t see it.


In a new campaign for suicide-prevention group Samaritans of Singapore, seemingly innocuous graffiti actually disguises a cry for help within the same space. Created by‎ agency Publicis Singapore, the new ads employ ambigrams–words or symbols that have meanings even when viewed from different directions–to mimic the ambiguity of depression, whose symptoms are often so subtle that people walk right by without noticing. It’s a tasteful campaign whose utility effectively serves its message.

“The signs are there if you read them,” promises the tagline, which itself is written upside down to intrigue viewers to look closer. Upon further inspection, messages like “I feel fantastic” actually read as “I’m falling apart.” The ambigrams reinforce how hollow mere words can be sometimes, and how it’s important to dig beyond the surface for further meaning if you suspect somebody might be depressed.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.