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/