Tag Archives: suicide

A common theme in YA novels this year

Credit goes to gayleforman.com

Credit goes to gayleforman.com

Although we’re not even a third of the way through 2015, I’ve still managed to find a theme in YA novels this year: suicide.

I just finished Gayle Forman’s new book called I Was Here, and it centered on Cody, who found out that her best friend, Meg, committed suicide. The plot of the book is Cody investigating what led to Meg’s suicide. Forman found the inspiration for Meg’s character while interviewing people for an article that she was writing years ago. The person in particular that inspired Meg was a 19 year-old girl named Suzy who also committed suicide.

What Suzy & Meg both had in common is that they both suffered from depression. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, studies have consistently suggested that the overwhelming majority of people who take their own lives—90 percent or more—had a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Among people who die by suicide, the most common disorder is depression, though bipolar disorder and substance abuse are also risk factors. Often, these illnesses are undiagnosed or untreated at the time of death. These statistics are important because so many people who suffer want to talk to someone, but they’re afraid that no one will understand what they’re going through. They feel alone, but they’re not.

As a people, we need to start a worldwide conversation about depression and other mental disorders. Maybe this conversation will prevent some suicides from occurring. The other titles that I’ve seen with similar themes to I Was Here are Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. Playlist for the Dead is similar to I Was Here because the protagonist in this novel is also trying to figure out why their best friend committed suicide. My Heart and Other Black Holes is a little different in that the protagonist is grappling with the decision of whether or not to commit suicide.

It’s good that more novels are being published about these controversial topics, because it starts the conversation that is much needed about depression and suicide. It also puts readers into the mind of someone who has been in this position and helps readers to have a better understanding of what they’re going through. I Was Here is a good yet uncomfortable read, but I think that it’s also an important read because it made me more aware of these topics than I was before. If you or someone you know has had thoughts of suicide visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website or call their number: 1-800-273-8255.



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It Gets Better

Today is National Coming Out Day.  In honor of that fact, I want to dedicate this post to Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, and the countless other young people who have taken their own lives, because they saw no other escape from a lifetime of discrimination, harassment, and even violence.

Of course, the victims of bullying aren’t exclusively people who are not heterosexual, who are questioning their sexuality, or who are perceived as gay.  Sladjana Vidovic was apparently bullied because she was foreign.  Phoebe Prince “was reportedly harassed by older girls who resented her dating an older football player.” Because someone circulated embarrassing photos of Hope Witsell, she was even taunted after her death.

If you or anyone you know are facing a similar situation, this post is also dedicated to you.  Please know that you’re not alone, and there are people that very much want to help you get through it.

Below are just a few of the resources available to you, at the library and beyond.  The discussion also continues over at CLPTeensburgh, where Joseph Wilk has written an amazing post that captures this issue far better than I can.  And as always, readers are invited to contribute their suggestions and experiences in the comments.


Websites / Helplines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK  (1-800-273-8255)

“Are you feeling desperate, alone or hopeless? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.”

Allegheny County’s re:solve crisis network
1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226)

“A crisis can be anything from feeling lonely and needing to talk – to feeling overwhelmed with life. Our lives are full of stressors both large and small, but no matter the complexity, it helps to talk with someone.”

The Trevor Project

“The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.”

The It Gets Better Project

“ItGetsBetterProject.com is a place where young people who are gay, lesbian, bi, or trans can see with their own eyes how love and happiness can be a reality in their future.”

The Make It Better Project

“You have the power to change your school, community, and to influence school policies for the whole country right NOW!”

The Human Rights Campaign

“The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”

PFLAG (Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians & Gays)

This organization offers local support groups, as well as working to create change at the national level.

Southern Poverty Law Center

“The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.”


Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


When Life Stinks: How To Deal With Your Bad Moods, Blues, and Depression by Michel Piquemal

What You Must Think of Me: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience With Social Anxiety Disorder by Emily Ford

What To Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed: A Practical, Compassionate, and Helpful Guide by Mitch and Susan Golant

Healing Anger by the Dalai Lama

Please Stop Laughing at Us: One Survivor’s Extraordinary Quest to Prevent School Bullying (Featuring solutions for parents, teachers, students, and adult survivors) by Jodee Blanco

The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel.

Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating And Confronting Homophobia, edited by Frances Rooney

Everyday Activism: A Handbook for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People and Their Allies (edited by Michael R. Stevenson & Jeanine C. Cogan)



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