sebastian errazuriz: american kills
sebastian errazuriz: american kills sebastian errazuriz: american kills
aug 19, 2010

sebastian errazuriz: american kills

‘american kills’ installation

‘american kills’ by chilean-born new york based artist sebastian errazuriz is a public installation showcasing the suicide rates of US soldiers. after searching on official war sites on the internet, he accidentally found out that 2 times more american soldiers had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed during that same year in the war in iraq; an alarming comparison that errazuriz had personally never read or heard about before.

according to the artist, a first google search showed only reports of media alarm about suicide rates, but the information was always comfortably presented divided into months and generally separated by statistics from the army, navy or air-force.

‘when I first found the overall statistics summed the 304 suicides by US soldiers during 2009, I was shocked. I tried to find a number to compare that statistic. to my surprise the suicide statistic doubled the total of 149 US soldiers that had died in the iraq war during 2009 and equaled the number of soldiers killed in afghanistan.‘ – SR

errazuriz’s first instinct was to post the statistic on facebook, dumbfounded by the lack of response and interest, he bought can of black paint and decided to ‘post’ the news in the real world on his own wall outside his studio in brooklyn. equipped with a ladder, he marked a black strip for every dead soldier, until both the suicide rates and war rates occupied the entire wall and were registered as a single image.

‘the counting of dead soldiers outside my studio was long and surprisingly eerie; it was hard to forget that every brush stroke was a soldier who had died the previous year. a lot of people stopped to read the mural and were immediately impressed by the reality portrayed. most of them seemed quite shocked and approached me to ask if what I was painting was real. I tried to explain that I simply wished to create a physical image that could capture people’s imagination, creating awareness of the current numbers in death, war and the infinite discrepancy between the resources and energies destined to fight and protect soldiers at war versus the energies invested in protecting their mental health and stability.‘- SR

  • Thank you.

    John says:
  • Designboom needs to post photos of the “graveyard” next to lafayette BART station in Lafayetee , California. Similar idea, much bigger scale and audience.

    yossarian says:
  • Check out Sebastian Errazuriz’s previous pop up cemetery of 1100 crosses in NYC. The project was attempting to illustrate the statistic of New Yorkers who die every week.

    John says:
  • Thank you Sebastian Errazuriz and design boom, hope to see your team putting more effort into news letters with art and designs that have some social responsibility : )
    Its a good change

    green gecko says:
  • The pics used to promote the piece look more concerned with being ‘cool’ than the actual message of the artwork.

    There should be a third column saying, amount of ‘Iraqi civilians killed by US army’ in 2009, doubt you’d have the wall space!

    Rich says:
  • ####################your font is too small to read####################

    Sorry, but it is says:
  • Heart Breaking… wonderful idea and purpose

    SomeoneCares says:
  • Thank you

    C.S.M says:
  • yes, but how many US soldiers are there totally, and how does the percentage of suicides in the armed services compare with the percentage of the general public?

    rickster says:
  • @rickster: From Oct 2008-Sept. 2009, 20 out of 100,000 soldiers killed themselves compared to 19 out of 100,000 civilians–first time military suicides surpassed civilian since Vietnam.

    Cape says:
  • to whoever complained about the size of the text: press ctrl and + at the same time and it will make it easier to read. ctrl – to zoom out 🙂

    flor says:
  • This is exactly why I want to get my PhD in psychology the only thing I’m going to do is help those who serve when they get home. It’s the worst thing that goes on in this country and it goes un noticed. Thank you for seeing how important this is.

    Lindsey says:
  • humanity needs more people like you, maybe this will get the right peoples attention.

    D.Crookes says:
  • wow, this is heartbreaking, thank you for putting it out there literally in black and white, people need to see this and know this happens, my dad was a WW2 vet and luckily he lived late into his years, but whats going on now is such a tragedy, thank you again

    Joy says:
  • The tally’s add up to 309 on the left side, not 304

    Will says:
  • Gee, I wonder how true the numbers are. Where exactly did the creator of the wall display get the numbers?
    I don’t believe everything I read.

    Wookiepooky says:
  • why is it a shock? We invade a dirt poor country and are surprised that we kill ourselves better than they kill us?

    From Oct 2008-Sept. 2009, 20 out of 100,000 soldiers killed themselves compared to 19 out of 100,000 civilians–first time military suicides surpassed civilian since Vietnam.

    that was posted by someone here, and if it’s true, that means that your stats are really not important. if the suicide rate is so close to civilian numbers, maybe the problem isn’t the military at all. maybe it’s something to do with how the individuals lives turned out. or brain chemistry, or maybe even weakness of will. or maybe brainwashing, or society. but nothing more than what every american goes through.

    You should make a comment about the real threat. the people who make decisions that involve people getting bombed off the face of the earth by drones flown from thousands of miles away, for living in a country where a ghost enemy is purported to live (afghanistan/ al queda), and for being tall and bearded (from history channel ie man and friends bombed for looking like bin laden). or maybe the poeple who hear about the wrong people getting bombed and think it is collateral damage in a justified war.

    the suicide stat is what I call a “who gives a shit”

    fatbobby says:
  • Thank you for this. I had no idea it’s horrible.

    L. Naomi Wymer says:
  • Moving and very sad. Thanks for creating this.

    Lori says:
  • Be interesting to know how that soldier suicide rate compares to other nations? I’d also like to know the source please designboom because ‘searching official war sites’ is a bit vague.

    On another note at least this guy keeps himself busy! There been about four projects in the last month on here!

    Reggie says:
  • Um yeah just a wild guess, but I think maybe more than 140 odd US soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2009.

    Rob says:
  • Those statistics will rise dramatically over time as they have with Vietnam veterans. War is a traumatic event and the taking of the lives of others dramatically affects the ability of some individuals to readjust and resocialize. There are still a large number of Vietnam veterans who have isolated themselves in wilderness areas or deep within the urban jungle. They have been abandoned by their country, their people and their government. This will also happen with the veterans of our present wars. These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.

    riderup says:
  • It’s very popular to be against military action, but without an army and people fighting for the liberty enjoyed in the USA people would have far bigger problems to think about than soldier suicides i.e.

    I bet as many bankers or lawyers killed themselves, in the USA in 2009. Soldiers join the army of their own free will. The fact that some can’t handle the job or have other issues in their life which leads to suicide means what exactly? In japan, among the most comfortable environments one could wish to live (for the most part) there are 1000s of suicides each year for reasons so trivial they don’t bare thinking about – my point is that suicide isn’t always job related.

    Jesse says:
  • I have a solution:
    stop joining the goddamn army.

    Braxx says:
  • Awesome.. As someone who knew a Marine who killed himself last year, I’d like to say its great to see someone acknowledge the psychological effects of PTSD, and how large a percentage of the deaths of soldiers are actually suicides.

    Kate says:
  • I just read an article that said military suicides make up 20% of the total suicide rate in the US, but the military is only about 1% of the total population. It would seem tough to judge the 19 out of 100,000 suicide rate in the US because I’m sure most of the figures include the people in the military. So yes the is a very big problem and we should be concerned.

    zach says:
  • Fantastic! But why does the left side add up to 308 and not 304?

    Si says:
  • Left side is 309, actually.

    ICanAdd says:
  • how sad … nice elabortation though.

    sara says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,671 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample