Is Calum Depressed in Aftersun? Did He Die By Suicide?

Director Charlotte Wells’s ‘Aftersun’ is a drama movie set in the late 90s and told through a series of video recordings. The film revolves around Sophie, an eleven-year-old girl who visits Turkey on vacation with Calum, her father, who will soon turn thirty-one. The film explores a father and daughter’s relationship as Sophie tries to understand the person Calum was apart from being a father.

As a result, we get a peak at the several struggles of adulthood Calum faces but tries to hide from Sophie. Therefore, viewers must be wondering whether Calum is depressed and if his mental state contributed to his eventual fate. If you wish to learn more about Calum’s depression and potential death in ‘Aftersun,’ here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Is Calum Drowning in Unspoken Pain?

In ‘Aftersun,’ we meet Calum, Sophie’s single father who lives away from her, but the duo reunites for a vacation in Turkey. The film features ‘Normal People‘ star Paul Mescal as Calum. Calum is divorced from Sophie’s mother and is a single father. However, as the narrative progresses, viewers discover that Calum is emotionally distant from Sophie. While he deeply loves Sophie and has a strong bond with her, he does not open up much about his personal life. Furthermore, we learn that Calum is facing financial problems, does not have a steady income, and struggles with self-identity.

Calum is engaged in a pattern of self-hated and unbearable sadness that he is forced to hide from everyone, including his daughter. Hence, the film strongly implies that Calum is battling mental health issues. The presence of persistent sadness and a lack of interest in activities can define depression. The latter is evident in one scene where Calum refuses to perform a karaoke song with Sophie. Moreover, despite excitedly starting the day, we often see Calum calling it an early night, implying that he is quickly losing interest in the vacation. The constant presence of self-help books around Calum seems to confirm that he is battling with depression.

Did Calum Take His Own Life?

At the film’s climax, we learn that Adult Sophie is watching the recordings from her vacation with Calum on TV. Meanwhile, we see it intercuts with quick flashes that depict Calum at a rave party, dancing breathlessly under strobe lights. The final scene shows Calum dropping Sophie off at the airport. Calum retreats into the airport corridor disappearing behind what appears to be the door to the rave. Calum is wearing the same shirt in the rave as the one he wears at the airport. Hence, the ending implies that the airport was the last time Sophie saw her father.

While the film does not confirm Calum’s fate, it hints that Calum is dead. Moreover, several moments indicate that Calum died by suicide. Calum’s mental health struggles suggest that he is battling suicidal thoughts. We see Calum almost running into a bus, standing on the railing of his balcony, ready to jump off, and vanishing into the ocean. Furthermore, throughout the movie, Calum sports injuries such as a broken wrist and an injured shoulder. These wounds could be an indication of self-harm.

When Sophie asks Calum about the injuries, he does not give a firm answer. Moreover, Calum acts emotionally distant from his daughter for most of the movie, implying that his presence could emotionally scar Sophie. As we later learn, an adult Sophie is not at ease with the memories of her father. Adult Sophie meeting Calum at the rave implies that she is coming to terms with Calum’s actions in the past. Given that Calum was a loving father, a rift between Sophie and him seems unlikely.

However, Calum’s suicide could have scarred Sophie emotionally, especially if he died shortly after the vacation. Therefore, several smartly crafted incidents in the movie seem to confirm that Calum’s mental health deteriorated to a point where he could no longer carry the emotional burdens of his issue. Hence, he might have committed suicide, leaving a young Sophie very confused about the motivations behind her father’s actions. As a result, the entire film becomes an exercise in Sophie trying to understand her father’s struggles.

Read More: Is Aftersun Based on a True Story?