Why'd She Do It?: Suicide Awareness Week At YABookShelf.com

5220274051 c9e268c174 m Why'd She Do It?: Suicide Awareness Week At YABookShelf.comOver the last few months, like you, I’ve heard the news reports about teen suicide as a result of bullying and other causes. At the same time, I’ve watched a number of the heart-felt, “It Gets Better” messages of hope by celebrities and YA authors and have read several books featuring teens suffering from depression, considering suicide, and/or dealing with the loss of someone they really cared about to suicide. With all of these elements coming together in my life, I knew that I had to break the silence about this taboo subject matter, so I took the It Gets Better Pledge and today and for the next week or so, I’m going to bring you a series of reviews, commentaries, guest posts, and giveaways of related YA books for Suicide Awareness Week on YABookShelf.com.

Some teens face bullying for any number of reasons from the way they dress, their sexuality, or their reputations, as Hannah Baker from Jay Asher‘s page turner, Thirteen Reasons Why, did. Other teens have experienced a nearly life long battle with depression, like Ingrid from Nina LaCour‘s brilliant novel, Hold Still. Still others find that their lives have become overwhelmingly dark and stressful, like Steven from Last December by Matt Beam and Melissa from Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan. Whether these characters find a way through their depression over the course of the novel or take their own life before the story even begins, these novels – and others I’m sure – all have one major thing in common, they speak to what it is like for depressed and suicidal teens as well as for the families and friends who are affected by the suicide of someone else.

So why have a Suicide Awareness Week here on YABookShelf.com? There are several reasons. I hope that by spreading the word about books like these ones, someone will read them and find the courage to get the help they need. Perhaps someone will use the knowledge they learn from them to help their friends or family members before it’s too late. Finally, I know that there are people out there, who have had the unfortunate experience of losing their friend, their sister, their brother, their mother, their father, their favorite aunt, or anyone else to whom they were close to suicide. And for those in this latter situation, I hope that books I mention or the theme-related articles that I post will help them get through the terrible loss that they’ve suffered.

While I already have a number of guest posts and other articles planned for the coming week, if you would like to write something in conjunction to this theme, then I’m certainly open to all ideas. Leave me a comment on my site, send me an email from my About YA Book Shelf page, or a message on Twitter between now and Friday, December 3, 2010, and I’ll see what I can do to fit you in as well. Also, feel free to use the Hashtag: #suicideawareness. Thanks in advance for everyone who participates – you’re help is invaluable!

  • http://whoRuBlog.com Liza Wiemer

    Melissa, this is sooo awesome that you’re doing this! Will be tweeting about it during the week! Thanks for doing this!

  • Anna

    Thanks for taking the pledge and writing about suicide. It is seen not easily spoken about, but it needs to be. I recently completed a course to help with suicidal people. Talking and asking are the key to possibly saving a life. I look forward to your posts.

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Thanks a lot, Liza. It means a lot to me that you think this is really great because you post on so many worthwhile topics for teens. Thanks for spreading the word!

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    You’re welcome, Anna. I agree with you wholeheartedly that suicide is an issue that people really have to be more willing to discuss openly. If people aren’t aware of the signs of depression and don’t ask questions when they think something is wrong, they might miss the chance to save a life. I’m also really glad that there are popular (and less popular) fiction about this issue for teens because as I suggested in the post, I really think that reading about stories like these can help young adults realize that they aren’t the only ones who have gone through these experiences.

  • Anna

    So true indeed. Suicide is preventable if more were aware, and not frightened by asking. Ellen Hopkins wrote a good book about it called Impulse. I am about to start Willow, it’s on cutting. I have a few lists of contacts on my blog that your welcome to use on your blog. They are under Suicide Awareness & Missing/Found. You have a lot of followers to get the word out, an again, thank you!

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Thanks for mentioning that Impulse is related to the topic of suicide, or rather attempted suicide from what I’ve now learned and for mentioning the list of links you have on your site as well. I may very well use them. I’ve heard of Willow, but haven’t yet read it, though cutting or self-harm isn’t quite the same, if you’re interested in some other books that deal with that topic, I’d recommend you check out Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, which was nominated for the Governor General’s award for Children’s literature in Canada this year and As She Grows by Lesley Anne Cowan.

  • Terra

    This is great. I wish this would have been more openly talked about when I was younger. I was the bully. I regret it all the time, and have since made amends with everyone I hurt in High School. I’ve been out of HS about 13 years and it was pretty bad back then. Seems like it just gets worse and worse as the years go on. My best friend’s brother committed suicide when he was a freshman back in 1999. He was 14 years old! He was picked on everyday for being “different” and still to this day we don’t know for sure what made him do it.

    Thank you so very much for making this post, the awareness does need to be spread. Teen suicide and bullying has got to stop. I think opening up and talking about it is the best way to make that happen. We are now-a-days acknowledging that this is happening and we have to talk about it.

    Great post! Thanks again!

  • http://toturnoveranewleaf.blogspot.com/ Terra

    To respond to Anna – I read Willow. Great book, and it really makes you think about how you treat and speak to others. People sometimes are like animals, they hide their pain pretty well. Just smiling at a stranger can change their lives.

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Thanks for your comment, Terra. I think it takes courage to admit that you did something wrong in the past, even if you regret it, even if you’ve made amends to those you hurt. I wish that it was talked about more openly when I was younger too. I don’t know if bullying has gotten worse (perhaps we just hear more about it in the media because people are finally beginning to understand that talking about suicide isn’t going to get someone to attempt it), but it certainly has changed. Bullying doesn’t just happen in school or in public anymore, but also happens through the Internet, so a teen’s private life might be just as difficult as his/her experience at school.

    I think what you said about your best friend’s brother is true of a lot of people, about how you don’t know for sure why he decided to commit suicide. Even when someone does leave a suicide note or some sort of message, it’s difficult for the survivors because you always wish that the person could have gotten past their current pain, especially when they’re as young as the boy you mentioned, to realize that things can and do get better. If you keep checking back over the course of the next week or so, I think that you’ll find that this is how some of the authors I read recently represent the situation when it isn’t written in the voice of the character who commits suicide – at least not at first.

    I’m really glad that you appreciate what I’m doing with this post – it means a lot to me. And you’re right, the awareness needs to spread, and I think that opening up and talking about it is the most important thing. Sometimes, it’s possible that when a person is reaching out for help, the person they first mention it to might not be receptive, but I hope that these posts and ones that others are doing convince teens and young adults to keep trying until they find someone who can help them.

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Yes, some people can, indeed, hide their pain very well. Sometimes they can even hide a lot of self destructive behaviors, like self harm, substance abuse, etc. This past summer I had an interview with Lesley Anne Cowan, a YA author and teacher of at-risk teens, who spoke more in detail about the motivations of her characters, Snow and Melissa, who in As She Grows and Something Wicked respectively, both hide the truth of their situations from every adult in their lives for as long as they can. Among other things, of course.

  • Anna

    Terra, I’m looking forward to reading it. Cutting and self harm can also lead to suicide. The more I read the more I learn, even if fiction, there is always some truth behind the story.

    Melissa, I added those books to my wish list. ;o) Thanks for the suggestions.

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    You’re welcome, Anna. My pleasure!

  • Schuyler Esperanza

    I’m so happy you’re hosting a week on this topic. I used to speak to kids, middle school age through college, about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. If I can help by writing about my own difficulties (and how books saved my life), writing a review of a book for your blog (like Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS, which is about severe trauma and cutting), or contributing in any other way, please let me know.

    My twitter handle is @wholewidewords. Will be tweeting/retweeting about your efforts.

    Thanks again, from someone who’s been there–and still struggles, even at age 40.

    Schuyler

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Thanks very much for your comment, Schuyler. I’m really happy that I’m hosting a week on this topic, and I’m really glad that people like you appreciate it as well. Your support – as someone who has been there – means a lot.

  • http://www.jemacleod.com JE MACLEOD

    I have a character in Waiting To Score who commits suicide. She still breaks my heart and I wrote her in a way that sort of showed why she did it without coming out and telling her story, except through other characters.

    I wrote her to try and show boys (and girls) how different things are inside vs outside.

  • http://www.yabookshelf.com Melissa

    Thanks for your comment, JE Macleod. It’s always great to hear of new YA books on the theme. :)

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