If someone would give me an entire day to read, I would definitely take that in a heartbeat. Reading is my form of escape from life, and nothing can make me happier than a good book, a cup of coffee, and a stormy day.
And then I come across books that can actually change the way I view life, especially during my down-in-the-dumps days.
Here are some books that I came across which helped me understand suicide and depression (synopsis taken from Goodreads):
If you feel any of these books will be a trigger, it’s a sign that you should not read them.
Despite the best intentions of these authors, there is always going to be some part of fiction books that will glamorize suicide and depression, and that should not be the case. However, if you feel that you can handle the topic, feel free to look them up.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
Personally, I hate that Hannah Baker tried to justify her suicide, however, that she did just that is what gave this book its voice. The book does not just tackle suicide, but also the causes and effects in which lives revolve around: Suicide does not just happen, there are a lot of reasons — big and small — that can trigger those thoughts and actions, so don’t take it lightly.
With the double narrative from Clay, it also gives a perspective from the point of view of someone who lost a loved one to suicide. Taking one’s own life does not end the pain there , it will cause grief and guilt to the people who cared, and someone always cares. So if you’re one of those who care, let them know, it can make all the difference in the world for them.
Some people who contemplated suicide claimed that this book is therapeutic for them, and if you read past Hannah Baker’s reasons, this may also be therapeutic to you, too.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
Charlie addresses letters to you, his friend. He tells you that his best friend killed himself. And you know that he’s sad about it, but he seemed to be doing okay, especially when he found Sam and Patrick and their group. The entire book is melancholy in tone, and you just realize that Charlie is depressed. He had his happy moments too, mind you. He even swore he felt infinite.
It also happened to explore a lot of themes: friendship, love, suicide, body image, and sexuality, so you like Charlie. You can relate to him. But what else is wrong with him? It can’t be just about the death of his best friend, right? Then you go to the last few pages and you realize why Charlie needed to get better. It wasn’t just because his best friend took his own life. And you’ll realize that not everyone has the same story, so you can’t judge someone solely by what you can see, because scars run deeper than that.
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
I only recently finished this book, and in my review, I said that this is nearly accurate, and that it paints a (somewhat) realistic picture of depression without being depressing. And the good thing about it is that the main character, Craig, took it into his own hands to get better. It also helped that he had a very supportive family. It’s a quirky book for a such a serious topic, so it’s actually for light reading.
But the most important part? You have to admit to yourself that you need help, and that you should not be embarrassed to ask for it when time comes. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward.
“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
PS Any other books you think I should add in this list, feel free to suggest. I’ll find time to read and add it here.