S is for (Books About) Suicide #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about suicide and suicidal thoughts. I love that the topic is getting more interest, that books and movies are generating more conversations about it. I don’t love that a lot of the information out there is false. Here are my thoughts on a few books on the topic.

Why People Die By Suicide, by Thomas Joiner (psychology): After his father committed suicide, Thomas Joiner set out to learn all he could about the topic. This book is accessible to people even without a background in psychology and mixes research with personal experience. It’s a fantastic and important book.

All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven (YA): Theodore and Violet are both struggling with suicidal thoughts. Violet, after the death of her sister, Theodore because of his depression. The two teens fall into a tumultuous relationship. I loved this book because it shows the path that suicidal thoughts can take, how they can grab a person and drag them down. However, this book could be triggering to someone actually struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. It’s fantastic but be cautious about reading it. (Spoiler alert: it’s not a happy ending)

13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (YA): I debated whether or not to talk about this book because I could devote an entire blog post to it (and maybe I should). As an adult who isn’t struggling with suicidal ideation, I loved it. It’s an entertaining (but dark) read. Previous coworkers who work with teens have said teens have cited this book as a reason they attempted suicide. But let’s be honest… there’s always something that’s going to be the trigger. The two major specific problems with this book are that it made it seem like there’s no point in asking for help, and that suicide is an effective way to revenge yourself on those who’ve wronged you. It’s a good book for insight into the mind of someone contemplating suicide, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide. Teens who read it should have someone to discuss and process the book with. I won’t say teens shouldn’t read it because, other than suicide, it touches on topics of bullying and sexual assault, things I think teens need to be encouraged to talk openly about with adults. But… use caution.

So that’s it for me. Are there any books about suicide you’d recommend?

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Y is for Y (Why) People Die By Suicide

Unknown-10The end of the alphabet is always tough.  I could only find one book starting with a “Y” that I’d actually read, and it didn’t affect me in any way.

This book was one of the many on my “W” list, and when it occurred to me that I could get creative and use it, I was thrilled.  This is a book that I feel very passionately that more people should read.

Why People Die by Suicide, by Thomas Joiner, is a book that was recommended to me when I started my job as a crisis therapist.  It opened my eyes to so many of the reasons that people attempt suicide.

There are a lot of myths about suicide.  We saw that after the death of Robin Williams.  People had opinions.  Many people expressed that he was selfish or cowardly.  It’s easier to believe that, I suppose.

The truth is that when people die by suicide, they often feel that they’re doing a good thing for their friends and family.  They honestly feel that others will be better off without them.

Suicide touches the lives of many people, and I think it’s important to talk about it, de-stigmatize it.  Talking about it gives us all power.  Plus, as I learned while working crisis, you never know when talking to someone frankly about what they’re dealing with can help them to make a less permanent decision.

Suicide is a permanent reaction to a temporary problem.

This is an accessible book for anyone who’s interested in learning more about this topic.  The clinical psychologist who wrote it started asking the question after someone in his family died from suicide.  The information is tied into research, but there are also anecdotes and

This book helped me gain a better understanding of this topic, but it also helped me be more empathetic.  It’s hard for most people to understand what goes through the mind of someone who chooses to die, which is what makes books like this one so important.

Understanding, love, compassion are all things the world could use a little more of.