As long a there’s been photography, there have been haunting images. From people posing with dead loved ones propped up for a final snap to tragic suicides in progress, photography provides a unique window into the freaky goings-on of the world throughout the past 150 years. The unnerving and haunting images here are no exception.
The hair-raising picture above was taken the day that Sean, Michael and Mary McQuilken were hiking Moro Rock in the Sequoia National Forest on Aug. 20, 1975 and suddenly noticed their hair standing on end. Mary took this humorous picture of her brothers, but the situation quickly turned dangerous. Michael, 18 at the time, noticed that a ring on his finger was buzzing loudly, then the temperature dropped and it began to hail. As they bolted down the mountain, lightning struck. Michael and his siblings survived, but 12-year-old Sean was struck along with two other hikers.
This haunting, famous image shows a shell-shocked soldier being treated in a trench during the WWI Battle of Flers-Courcelette during the Somme Offensive in September 1916. His crazy eyes and hysterical smile tell the tale. Today it’s called PTSD but its origins are the same: war and its myriad stresses push men beyond the limits of human endurance.
Known as “The Most Beautiful Suicide,” this image was taken by photography student Robert Wiles just minutes after Evelyn McHale plunged to her death from the 86th Observation Deck of the Empire State Building in 1947. It depicts McHale, who had just come from visiting her fiance in Pennsylvania, almost reclining upon a parked car, her face serene. She left a note, indicating that she thought she would be a bad wife and that she was too much like her mother, who was known to have mental health issues.