Waiting in suspense

I really enjoy photographs capturing a moment in time that almost can’t be described in words.  This image is one of those.  Sure you can describe the situation as a woman is getting the final checks on the rigging before a suicide suspension, but it’s what’s going on between the two of them that really speaks the loudest.

This is that moment, just before she is to be lifted off the ground.  The quiet intensity of both the suspender and suspendee.  The final preparations right before some goes through a potentially life defining moment.

The image was submitted anonymously, but I really would like to know the story behind it.  Was it her first suspension?  What was going through her mind at that moment?

Then again, part of the allure of the image is in not knowing.  So I’ll just leave it here for you to enjoy.


To see the rest of the images in this series and others like it, check out the suspension galleries.

17 thoughts on “Waiting in suspense

  1. Its come to a point that when I see bad rigging i can’t keep quiet anymore. Non-locking carabiners should NEVER be used during a suspension in any part of the rigging. Also those swing gate climbing quickdraws contain sewn porous webbing that can’t be disinfected, as well as aluminum carabiners can’t be autoclaved without compromising the integrity of the material. Here is a link to two diagrams of the proper set up and glove protocol when it comes to suspension rigging.


  2. Thank you Emrys. The information is out there and readily available to all who insist on performing their own suspensions without proper training or working knowledge of what they are attempting. It is a shame that we continue to see rigging like this on an almost daily basis.

  3. It’s a shame such a pleasant photo is totally overshadowed by the aforementioned rigging situation. I’d love to know more details though.

  4. I know who this piercer is, and their studio but after the first comment I don’t really want to name them because they do such great work there. I’ve been going to him for years and never had a problem and all my work by him is great.

  5. He may well be a decent piercer, but his suspension rigging has a lot wrong with it. This was not pointed out to needlessly be rude, rather it was to point out some serious flaws regarding safety and hyigene. It’s important that as a community we do things as safely as possible and it’d be a shame if anyone was to see this picture and then copy what they saw in it, when there’s information out there as was linked above on the correct way to rig.

  6. Yeah, we aren’t calling anyone out or being dicks about this at all. We, the global suspension community, are trying our damnedest to get the word out about safe suspensions, and that sometimes means pointing out mistakes so that everyone can learn from them. Does that detract from this person’s suspension? Not at all. Does it mean the piercer is ostracized from suspension community? No. Does it mean people might learn a little something from this comments thread? Hopefully, and that’s what are we here to do.

  7. So lets break this down from the other side of the coin. Other than the hooks, the gear used is designed to hold human weight. I do agree with Emrys that non-locking biners are probably not the best choice. Used in this application I think the chance for failure is pretty low, but using gear that locks does make more sense. I have seen people swing and bounce while hanging from hooks, and if this were the case locking biners or shackles are a better choice.

    As for contamination, that’s a whole other issue. Rigging equipment in general is not the cleanest stuff in the world. I’ve seen both riggers and climbers work with cut hands and our gear almost never gets cleaned. Yeah I understand that you you guys are dealing with different variables but why can’t you sterilize the equipment? I know the webbing can’t be cleaned because chemicals will break down the fibers, but what about the biners? Can’t they be wiped down?

    Oh and back to the photo above. I see your points, but you’ve got to admit his rigging looks way safer than some of the stuff I’ve seen on BME. I can’t even count how many photos I’ve seen with people hanging from quick links.

  8. Thanks for the clarification Emrys, and everyone else posting. I’m the first to admit my knowledge of the technical aspects of suspension are pretty much nil, and that I picked the photo based on aesthetic and not on the rigging techniques.

    Jason hit the nail on the head with his comments about the suspension community. They’re there to support each other, and help educate people in safe rigging and hygiene practices.

    That all said, I still think the picture looks good.

  9. Any form of hospital grade disinfectant will degrade the integrity of the carabiner over continued use as well as you’ve got metal on metal friction which will also compromise the integrity of the carabiner. Unlike a shackle the carabiner doesn’t come apart so disinfecting into the smaller areas of the hinge are not possible. Yes there are plenty of bad rigging pictures all over the internet, I look back to at things I’ve rigged and shudder but all we can do it progress. Will the rigging in the picture most likely work without issue, Yes but is it the Suspension Community Standard being taught/adopted throughout the world, No. Its no longer to the point of “oh it’ll work” or “it’ll be fine”. The information is out there as well as the proper equipment therefore there is no longer an excuse as there was 10 years ago it comes down to neglect on the part of the practitioner.

  10. Degradation of a biner? Both aluminum and titanium are fairly inert materials. Steel is actually much more of an issue when it comes to caustic agents. Yes I could see a problem with not being able to clean the hinges, but a good wipe (or soak), followed by a soap and water rinse, then fresh graphite in the hinges will make them good as new. Of course as I mentioned before your guys are dealing with a different situation than I am.

    Now metal on metal friction is another situation all together. Metal to rope or sling is preferred, but you do realize those quick draws are designed to go into a bolt. That’s metal on metal contact. Also in almost every suspension photo I’ve seen the rigging plate is connected to a pulley via a biner. That’s metal to metal contact on both sides. The way I see this is that biners have a lifespan. You just have to inspect your equipment and discard when it shows signs of wear.

    I still agree your original comments, the dog bone can’t be cleaned and never using non-locking biners, but the degradation of integrity and metal on metal contact I don’t see as problems, maybe more of areas to improve.

  11. That’s what we’re doing is trying to improve as a community. With legislation underway in certain states trying to make suspension illegal we are try to get on a protocol across the board in order to prevent losing the ability to do what we love. Also a soap and water solution won’t kill hepatitis or MRSA, you’d need to ultrasonic the carabiner like that of a medical grade tool and at that point the entire item is a biohazard and needs to be autoclaved, and if you’ve ever autoclaved aluminum you know it doesn’t handle it too well. Yes we are dealing with a different situation than you are hence the differences in protocol and opinion. I’m not aware of who you are or what you do when it comes to rigging but though we use rock climbing equipment during suspensions its applications are approached in another manner. I’m aware the quickdraws are used with metal to metal friction but that aren’t always bearing weight and when they are its for short periods of time with the dynamic rope absorbing a certain amount of the shock, as in suspension use a carabiner is always bearing weight when in use. We’ve adopted using tubular webbing to sheath carabiners against metal on metal friction as well as potential contamination also working well to color code different groups gear.

  12. Hey! That’s me :)
    In regards to the comments, it was my first suspension and I honestly wouldn’t know the first thing about rigging, but I would trust the Polymorph boys with any modification, and both mine and my partners suspensions went fantastically that day.
    As for what was going through my mind at the time, it was something between excitement, apprehension and “Fuck, it’s cold.”
    Summer suspensions, get in my life.

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