Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death in people ages 12-18, and many people have been touched by this heart-breaking issue. There are a lot of resources available to teens struggling with suicidal feelings.
There is also some debate about how YA novels should approach this difficult topic. Is humor appropriate? What about unhappy endings? Should YA authors vet novels that deal with suicide with professionals or seek out sensitivity reads before publishing them?
When I was a teen the popular movie, Harold and Maude, approached suicide with over-the-top black humor and an uplifting message.
I had a suicidal friend who watched this movie over and over. It meant a great deal to her. Ultimately, I think it can be difficult to predict how a creative work will influence its audience and this applies to young adult fiction as well. So today I’m going to use this space to promote awareness of teen suicide and some of the varied YA novels that address it.
- Bestselling YA author, Tommy Wallach, in reference to the cover of his upcoming novel, Thanks for the Trouble, said, “that’s a damn sexy bridge right there. I could really get into jumping off it.” His comment caused a firestorm on Twitter and provoked this passionate response About Suicide and Why We Shouldn’t Joke About It.
- Dealing with Suicide & Depression in Teen Literature highlights 5 YA novels that treat the topic of suicide “with respect and a thoughtful nature.”
- Many teens struggle with depression but as a society we aren’t always comfortable talking about it. Here are 5 Books That Speak Frankly About Depression.
- Jay Asher tells why the Thirteen Reasons Why anniversary edition contains the book’s original ending, and why he chose to end his YA novel about suicide the way he did.
- It is heartening to see these teens using outdated phones to spread the suicide prevention message that “help is just a phone call away.”