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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Suicide Prevention Day, My Story, & a YA Book List

Wednesday, September 10th, is National Suicide Prevention Day, which is part of National Suicide Prevention Week, spanning September 9 through the 14th. For more information, check out the To Write Love On Her Arms website here.

I assume that, for the most part, the majority of my readers do not know that this particular topic is very important to me. For most of my life I've struggled with depression and have had a few close calls with suicide. It isn't something that I talk about often - though I do more now than I ever would have in the past, especially when it was something that I thought about every day. 

I've been lucky. My family is very understanding about my struggle with depression. They've never made me feel like it was something that was my fault, a passing phase, hysterics, or something that could be easily remedied by simply thinking positive or taking medication. Instead, they were there to listen, to encourage me to see a therapist, to find a medication that worked, to change things about my life that hindered rather than helped. On more than one occasion - when things were especially bad - my mom would drive the 5 hours to where I lived for college and stay with me for as long as I needed... Until I could leave my apartment. Until I could think of something other than dying. When I needed to take a year off from college and move home, they never made me feel like I was failing at anything. They never once made me feel like I was a burden. 

Like I said, I've been very, very lucky. Blessed, really.

That isn't to say that things have magically been fixed, even after time, perspective, therapy, and medication. Suicide is no longer something that I think about every day, but it does still creep into my thoughts. I've become better at managing my depression, but it's a slippery slope and I have to actively work against it every day.

I'm not sure if it's that the topic of suicide and depression is becoming less taboo in our society or simply the fact that I'm more aware of the conversation, but I'm so proud of the fact that more and more people are speaking out about their struggles with depression and suicide. One of the most difficult parts about being an individual who is struggling with depression is that you feel completely alone and hopeless - a lack of social awareness and conversation about these feelings and struggles only makes them more powerful. 

One of the areas in which there seems to be a burgeoning conversation about depression and suicide is YA literature. As you might imagine, I'm drawn to these novels. I read them looking for - and often finding - myself. I wish there would have been more YA titles that dealt honestly and realistically with suicide and depression when I was a teen, but I'm incredibly thankful that they exist now. Below are a few titles, both old, new, and upcoming, that deal with depression and suicide in an accessible and honest way. This is by no means a complete list, but it does include titles I highly recommend and personally related to.

If you're an individual struggling with depression and/or thoughts of suicide, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Maybe it's your family that will be there for you. Or your friends... your coworkers... friends you meet online... or even in a book. I'm here. You will never be completely alone. There are people out there who truly do understand what you're going through and remember why you're important, why you matter, even when you don't. Don't give up.

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
 Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
 Tease by Amanda Maciel
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


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