This is my letter to you as someone who has either begun to read Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide or who is interested but hasn’t yet purchased the book or taken in out from a local or school library.
On Tuesday, February 6, my letter will be posted on the site Dear Reader at http://www.dearreaderloveauthor.blogspot.com. Tell your friends to check it out.
No one likes to talk about suicide. I get that. But the sad reality is that teen suicide is a serious problem; the suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached a 40-year high in 2015. Between 2007 and 2015, the suicide rate for those girls doubled. For young males, there was a 31 percent increase.
Do I have you attention? If I were a betting woman (I am not), I’d wager that you either know someone personally or know of someone who has taken her own life. And I bet that you—along with the rest of us—shake your head in disbelief and wonder what you can possibly do to help break this deadly cycle.
What I did was to write a book. Others attend workshops, champion suicide prevention programs in schools, join organizations or foundations whose work it is to better understand suicide.
The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why debuted in 2017 and clocked in as Twitter’s second most-tweeted-about TV show and finished as the year’s top-trending show on Google. Reaction to the story of a high school student’s suicide and its effect on her friends varied from those who found it uninformed and unnecessarily violent to those who felt the show had important messages. Whatever one’s opinion, there is agreement that 13 Reasons Why ignited a national conversation that will surely continue with the second season to air some time in 2018. I am hopeful that Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide will add to that conversation.
So, why did I write Dead Serious some three decades ago and return to the subject again? Good question. My brother took his own life. The first edition of the book was a cathartic journey. Through the stories of other survivors, I was able to gain some perspective on my brother’s tragic ending and my reactions to his death. I came back to the subject (Something I never thought I’d do!) after reading about the shocking increase in the number of middle school kids who take their own lives. My response: get back to it. There is so much more to be done. This time around, I focused on some topics that were not as immediate 30 years ago: bullying, LGBTQ teens, school suicide prevention programs, new studies about the teenage brain, social media and transgender people. I was heartened by the bravery it took for many teens to share their stories and the insights of experts who have dedicated their professional pursuits to focus on teen suicide.
I look forward to getting your feedback to Dead Serious. After all, you’re the one who counts. Reviewers can be helpful. Media can spread the word. But it is you, dear reader, who can help make a difference.