Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept 10, 2019)

There’s a reason young adult books dealing with depression, mental and other illnesses and suicide have become so popular. These are topics many teens struggle with, topics they may be reluctant to talk about to the people closest to them in their lives. Books offer them a safe, fairly anonymous way to explore scary thoughts they may be having, or that they’ve heard friends talk about. Books can also offer hope—a promise that things do get better, no matter how dark they seem at the moment. 

Over the many years I’ve been writing fiction, for both adults and teens, I’ve become friends with many, many other writers. Most of these friendships began online and that is how most are maintained, since we’re scattered all over the globe and rarely manage face to face meetings. One thing I’ve learned over all those years of chatting with other writers is that depression is surprisingly common among them—or perhaps not surprising, considering we’re all sensitive creatives who spend our time tapping into our deepest emotions in order to inform our fiction. Maybe it’s all that looking inward, or maybe the personality types drawn to writing as a profession also have a greater tendency toward depression and mental illness? History is littered with examples of writers and other creatives who became so depressed they committed suicide. In fact, you can probably think of several right off the top of your head. Sadly, it seems to be an occupational hazard, of sorts.

That’s why it made perfect sense for authors and book lovers to come together to help bring awareness to the issue with the First Annual “Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day,” organized by the amazing Eva Pohler. I’m very proud to be part of this effort and to help spread the word among the reading and writing community. In the lead-up to September 10th, more than two dozen of us are sharing videos and blog posts on the topic and pointing people to the Facebook Event that will feature all those and more, along with book giveaways. You can read all about our effort, with a full list of the authors and others participating and links to their videos and blog posts, HERE. Please also check out the Facebook event HERE. There, you’ll find links to valuable resources, including some inspirational TED talks on the topic. 

I admit that I myself have battled depression on and off for most of my adult life and during some of the worst lows, flirted with thoughts of suicide. That scary black hole of depression is very real and for many people medical or psychiatric treatment is necessary to pull away from the abyss. I was one of those who always thought I could talk myself out of being depressed. It didn’t work. Looking back, I now realize that my blackest depressions could have been alleviated much more quickly and easily had I taken the step of seeking treatment. What I did instead was to finally reach out to a few trusted online writer friends. They showed me that I was by no means alone, and helped to guide me back to a better place. If you find yourself experiencing what feels like an endless string of gray, hopeless days, please know there is NO shame in asking for help! Those who care about you will be very grateful that you did. I promise.

For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day and the International Association for Suicide Prevention, please visit their website here: https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/ 

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Leo Lynn

Hi Brenda…
I was informed and lifted by your words about mental health and writers, part of your article on the recent “Book Lovers Unite” event. A writer and mental health worker (primarily with kids and teens) for most of my adult life, I have felt the mental health strain caused by both career paths. This strain led me to write my novel, “The Stone Heart,” a semi-autographical story of a man and his family’s ill-fated search for love and acceptance in an indifferent world. The book starts with 44-year old Stone Lyon preparing to jump off a cliff. He is leaving behind a journal detailing what led him to the edge.
I wish I had known about this event so I could have engaged with other writers in the discussions you helped facilitate. My book includes several suicide situations relating to all ages, from victims to survivors.
Ultimately, my book resonates with hope regarding the epidemic of suicide in our world, a message I would like shared with readers.
I would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss this subject matter with you…
Thanks,
Leo

    Brenda Hiatt

    Leo, I know that a lot of schools appreciate books that tackle this difficult topic and often invite authors of those books to speak to the students. You might look into local opportunities to do that. This was the first time I’ve been a part of an effort like this, so I’m by no means an expert on the best way to get the word out about a book like yours. It does sound like something readers might appreciate.

Eva Pohler

Thank you, Brenda! I found your post to be very thought-provoking, as I considered other creative people, such as Beethoven and Van Gough, who suffered from mental illness,

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