Megan Lane: Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

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Photography and Text by Megan Lane, Copyright 2016.


Empty Chairs at Empty Tables


April 11th 2016

5:57pm – Approximately 12 hours after Olivia Kong committed suicide

Due to the death of a Penn student today there have been a lot of Facebook posts about depression, anxiety and suicide. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m here to talk” or “It gets better.” However, no matter how many times you scream it, someone contemplating suicide probably won’t hear it. Don’t stop with “here’s a list of numbers you can call or you can talk to me.”

REACH OUT to those you know are struggling.

Ask them if they are ok, and if they lie, DON’T GIVE UP!

FORCE them to understand that they are not alone.

When someone is acting quiet and saying that “everything is just too much,” help them. How are they supposed to reach out to you when their mind is telling them they are worthless and will be rejected? When your roommates spend all their time in bed, your sibling mentions a panic attack, your classmates insist that they are too stupid for a class, or your friend hasn’t eaten in over a day, please do something.

I can’t tell you how you should help them. But DO something.

Because they probably aren’t able to.


These photographs are not intended to upset or provoke anyone. They may be a trigger for someone who has struggled (or is currently struggling) with depression. Please put your own mental health first. Finally, there may be some inaccuracies with the information on the Penn students who have died.

The University of Pennsylvania has seen 11 suicides in the past 3 years. The following names, dates and ages were the only ones I was able to confirm online. There are likely more that were covered up or mistakenly ruled an accident. And countless others have attempted suicide. Despite this, the stigma against open conversation about mental health seems to be getting worse. When the most recent suicide occurred, it was all that anyone was talking about, online and off. The response I received to this Facebook post gave me the idea for the following photography project.

When I asked for volunteers to model in this series, I received over 20 responses in less than a few days. And this occurred during the weekend before finals week. People that I had never spoken to shared their personal experiences with me and asked to be a part of this project. Unfortunately, I only had time to work with a handful of these volunteers, but I was touched by the enthusiasm and support I received.

Many people claim that they are advocates for mental health on campus. However, I have found that many are either frustrated with their inability to help or shy away when face-to-face with someone who needs help. When you see someone who is upset, don’t avert your eyes, walk faster, or think “it’s probably none of my business.” Reach out to those who need help. One kind word could save someone’s life. And if the following pictures make you uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Are you unknowingly contributing to the silence?

In honor of the following students:

February 8th, 2013

Arya Singh

Age 20


August, 2013

Wendy Shung

Age 24


January 17th, 2014

Madison Holleran

Age 18


February 4th, 2014

Elvis Hatcher

Age 18


August 24th 2014

Theodric Reed

Age 22


September 28th 2014

Amanda Hu

Age 20


December 26th, 2014

Timothy Hamlett

Age 20


December 27th, 2014

Alice Wiley

Age 26


December 31st, 2015

Stephen Kyle Wilshusen

Age 25


April 11th, 2016

Olivia Kong

Age 21


“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.

There’s a pain goes on and on.

Empty chairs at empty tables

Now my friends are dead and gone.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me

That I live and you are gone.

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.

There’s a pain goes on and on.

Phantom faces at the window.

Phantom shadows on the floor.

Empty chairs at empty tables

Where my friends will meet no more.

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me

What your sacrifice was for

Empty chairs at empty tables

Where my friends will sing no more”

-“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”

from Les Miserables 


About The Author: Megan Lane is a junior majoring in Behavioral Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017. To read additional articles by Megan Lane, go here:

Naeun “Kelly” Ha: Dismantling the Penn Face

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Photography and Text by Naeun “Kelly” Ha, Copyright 2016.


Dismantling the Penn Face


“Penn Face”- what does it really mean? For me, it is the phenomenon of Penn students putting forth an image of themselves that is unflawed, put-together, unstressed, and perfect. Walking around campus, one sees a student body that appears collected and cool on the surface, but underneath festers problems of extreme stress, low self worth, and grief.

My sophomore year, I had my own carefully crafted Penn Face. To others, I was a happy, involved student with lots of friends and a boyfriend I loved. However, I was struggling with so much more. I didn’t have a major declared, which made me feel inadequate and lost. There were problems in my family, and I was also experiencing a crisis of faith with the religion I had been raised in. I became deeply depressed and anxious. I would spend hours in my dorm crying, then wipe the tears away when it was time to meet friends for dinner. When the depression was at its worst, I was paralyzed by my sadness. I started wishing that I would get a terminal illness or that a car would hit me one day while walking to class.

These words are difficult to write, not only because it was a dark and painful time of my life, but because so many other students here experience the same thing. This project is part of a movement to create a more honest and open environment here at the University of Pennsylvania. I am grateful to these brave women, some of them who are dear friends, who took the time and have the courage to show a side of themselves that is usually hidden to the world.


About The Author: Naeun “Kelly” Ha is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016. To read more articles by “Kelly”, go here:

David Pang: Boston, I’ll be Back


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Photography and Text by David Pang, Copyright 2016


I’ll be Back


Boston is home

To 650,000 faces

And the face of one

Echoes the music of many.


Boston is a city of the soul

And I breathe the soul of the city,

Enjoying the camaraderie

Of lives intertwined.


Boston is a fishermen’s hub

And the ocean’s treasures

Infuse the city

With the best of the Atlantic.


Boston is a rainy place;

The umbrellas come out.

For some, the rain is refreshing,

For others, it is a flood.


Boston is a bustling metropolis,

With people coming and going.

The city never seems to go to sleep!

Sunlight flows into a bulb.


Boston is a diverse community,

A hub of cultural richness,

A tapestry of the world,

“Welcome! Come one, come all!”


But the trains give you time to think.

And so we wait.

For the train.

On the train.

Like mindless zombies.

Waiting to come alive at home.


So this is Boston!


A family town.

With flashing lights.

And everyday prestige.


Sometimes Boston is a frightening place

And the silence shattered with sirens.


Sometimes Boston is serene

As if the city just wants you to pause

And admire

The way the sun reflects off the surface of the water,

The way the city reminds you of it’s rich and storied past . . .


It’s a city made to photograph.


And so I leave Bean Town

Holding on to Spring Break

With my memories and my 32 GB SD card.

On a six hour Megabus ride

To Philadelphia

To school

To reality.

Whispering to myself,


“I’ll be back”


About The Author: David Pang is a freshman enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To read additional articles by David Pang, go here:

Leniqueca Welcome: Fragments of Self

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Photography and Text by Leniqueca Welcome, Copyright 2016


Fragments of Self


We made something

We refused to name it

It is gone now;

‘It’ is gone now.

I want to name It

I should not wish to name It.

I go

I try to find It in this place.


I hear there is magic here

I hear there is color

I hear there is life

I come here.

I try to find It here

I could ask someone if they have seen It,

If only It had a name.


I see the color

I see her smile

I hear their laughs

I know they have seen it.

They possess it.

I know it.

I see it in her smile.


I hear It in her laugh

It is rendered in the color

Maybe there is magic here.

We never named It

Maybe It felt un-owned

Maybe they call It by name

Here It must feel at home.


It wanted to experience the magic

They say this place contains magic.

The orange is warm

The green is bold

The blue is calm

It must feel at home here.

It never settled with us.


We made time fleeting

We turned our backs to It’s existence

We refused to name It

We denied It.

Of course It would eventually deny us.

I am a fool to search for It here.

What If I find It?

I will only be rejected.



About The Author: Leniqueca Welcome is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, has a degree in Architecture, and is currently enrolled in the graduate program of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. To read more articles by Leniqueca Welcome, go here:

Alice Qiu: Lively Hong Kong


Photography and Text by Alice Qiu, Copyright 2016


Lively Hong Kong


Back in my memory, Hong Kong was a very modern, big and fancy city. When I was little, Mainland China was still very underdeveloped and when people talked about Hong Kong, it was all about skyscrapers and luxurious boutique stores. Hong Kong was the finance center of Asia.


With that expectation of Hong Kong, the first time I travelled there, I was disappointed. I saw the skyscrapers, but that was only part of Hong Kong. The majority of the city was old, crowded and noisy. The streets were narrow. Some of the walls were peeling off. Small vendors were everywhere on the street. Shouting and crying could be easily heard. It was just not the modern and fancy city I dreamed about.


However, the more time I spend in the city, the more I feel that the city has a strong flavor of life. It is not a cold city without feelings. Instead, it is welcoming, warm and interesting. In Hong Kong, small vendors have one of the most authentic foods. It is not the fine dining where you have to dress up and behave yourself.


Here food is more about everyday life. When you get off from work, on the way back home, you may stop for some fruits or tasty barbecue. You may make a wish in front of the traditional Chinese lantern. Or you may buy some small toys as gifts for your little brother or sister.  Yes Hong Kong is crowded and old, at least for the most part. But it is this huddle that makes the city full of life and character.


About the Author: Alice Qiu is a senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016. To read additional articles by Alice Qiu, go here: