In Honour of World Suicide Prevention Day
On September 10th every year it is World Suicide Prevention Day so we have put together a list of books that address issues of depression and grief, and others that can be uplifting and bring hope to the reader. World Suicide Prevention Day is a means to reach out to those who may be suffering and see no way out of their pain than to take their own life. #ITSOKAYTOTALK is the message The Samaritans want to put out there: the more people who offer an ear to those in need, the less desperate those contemplating suicide may feel. Of course depression and suicide are complicated and dark issues to address but the aim of World Suicide Prevention Day is to help shine a light on a need for more compassion, more reaching out to those in need, and a message of hope.
We here at FRA are not strangers to these dark worlds so would like to share some recommendations for books and stories that can bring guidance and hope. Even those of us who may never have had a suicidal thought but have met the Black Dog on many occasion would benefit from perusing this list.
Sad Book- Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen’s son Eddie died at the age of 19 from meningitis, and Sad became a book that chronicled Rosen’s grief during this time. He said: “I wrote it at a moment of extreme feeling and it went straight down onto the page … Quentin didn’t illustrate it, he ‘realized’ it. He turned the text into a book and as a result showed me back to myself. No writer could ask and get more than that.” Quentin Blake remarked how his illustration of Rosen “being sad but trying to look happy” was “a moving experience.”
Herzog- Saul Bellow
When reading this book it doesn’t take you long to realise it is something of a masterpiece as it is so beautifully written, and the characterisation is on point. Bellow writes with poignancy and humour so the darker themes of mental breakdown and confusion are surprisingly uplifting. Bellow finds poetry int he every day and offers you new ways to look at the ordinary life that moves around you. Anyone who has faced turmoil and darkness can find themselves in this book, and can be helped by its poetic philosophising.
Journeys with The Black Dog by Tessa Wigney and Gordon Parker
Written for those who live with depression, loved ones, and carers, this is a book full of real stories from people who also live with depression. It may benefit the loved ones and carers as it gives a real insight into the realities of depression, however it is also wonderful to see that you are not alone in your pain, and reading stories from people who have felt like you do is a comfort. There is much humour, it isn’t a depressive read, but it is eye opening to read the experiences of others.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
For a story about depression and suicide this was a really funny, hopeful and affirming book. After realising life wasn’t going the way he was promised, or the way he hoped, Craig Gilner finds himself spiralling out of control and his only source of help and hope come from many places. This book reminds us to keep looking for that hope, and that happiness could be at the end of an unlikely path.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
I enter this book into our little list as Allie herself suffered with depression, and like many other people it seemed to come out of nowhere. It can be so frightening to be ‘ok’ one moment and then cripplingly depressed the next day. By illustrating her own experiences, Brosh manages to explain the confusion and guilt with humour and grace, and shines a light onto the very human experience of depression and dark thoughts.