The world of academia is plagued by the mantra “publish or perish.” Many scientific journals, however, reject studies reporting negative or inconclusive results because the work is not considered impactful enough. During my time at Brown, we completed a research study on a treatment for suicidal adolescents, which, unfortunately, yielded no significant results between those who were in the treatment and those who were not. The data, while not publishable due to its lack of statistical significance, remains significant to the individuals who participated in the study. For them, it represents a critical 6-month period during which they were recovering from a suicidal crisis.

Translation utilizes 3D ceramic printing to translate psychological phenomena into tangible objects. Specifically, it makes the invisible phenomena of suicidality and psychosocial functioning, external. Weekly psychiatric severity rating (PSR) scores (rated on scale of 1 to 6) are used, where higher numbers correspond to greater suicidality and decreased functioning. Each week corresponds to a layer in the object, and each point on the scale translates to different shape. Greater severity in symptomatology corresponds to more angular and pointed shapes, reflecting the difficult nature of suicidality.

Once the object has been printed, the possibilities for its use are endless. For example, within a therapeutic setting, the object may be fired and made permanent, if it represents a positive time period, or destroyed in an act that represents a desire to move past that point in time. The material from the unfired destroyed object can be recycled for further printing. Alternatively, the printed object can be used as a diary of sorts. It is important to be able to create a visual analog to the invisible risk of suicide. Oftentimes, behaviors associated with suicide are done in secret or ruminated upon internally, and it can be difficult for adolescents to seek help.