In December, 2015, one of my son's best friends committed suicide. This tragedy continues to rock our family. I blogged then about this incident, and reported briefly on the epidemic of teen suicide. This DID NOT need to happen! Followers saw what I shared at the time, that I too attempted suicide as an adolescent--three times. Twice by pills, once by cutting my wrists. Why? Because I had depression, anxiety, and some PTSD from being date raped, and I had NO IDEA! However, I've since realized, it is the sum of our experiences that make us who we are, and yes these things happened, but if not, I would not be the person I am today. And during the season of my stormy adolescence, reading books saved my life. This is one reason why I write for teens--if by my experiences, I am able to affect the life on one person ... everything becomes worth it.
My epiphany came after hearing Patricia MacLachlan speak at a children's literature conference, when I remembered my youth spent in the library. Reading showed me I wasn't alone (though I didn't realize this at the time), and yes, reading helped me escape. Upon my epiphany, I thought, "This is what I'm meant to do! This is what I want to do! If through my words, I can help one other teenager be able to see the big picture, then the death of my brother, growing up in a bad divorce situation, and all the things that happened which made me who I am today ... well, see above.
I have learned much, through therapy and research, and today there are more resources and discoveries available about brain health than ever before. Things teens wouldn't know. Things I didn't know. The facts are, teen suicide rates have been rising, especially among adolescent girls (CDC.gov). But the number of resources for children and parents are also rising--exponentially! In my writing and reviewing, I think about things I would have liked to have known when I was younger, and I continue in my lifelong quest to share books of excellence. This roundup explores fiction with themes of mental illness, and nonfiction, resources that have become available thanks to advances in psychology and technology, and it will continue to be expanded.
If someone talks about suicide, don't ignore it. Take it very, very seriously.
From NPR.org, "If someone shows the warning signs of suicide: Do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional."
Instant Happy Journal: 365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude, and Joy
By Karen Salmansohn
Penguin Random House, 2015, $16.99
Genre: nonfiction, journal, happiness, new adult and adult crossover
These graphically-designed, fun pages are great for flipping through and instant inspiration. I've also printed out pages for my bulletin board and sent as encouraging messages. Great for all ages, especially fans of quotes, art, humor, inspiration, and graphic design. Also great gift for grads, Mother's and Father's Day, and as an add-on to any gift.
Page design by Taya D.
Content assistance, Corynn R.
Change your Brain, Change Your Life (Before 25): Train the Developing Mind for Real World Success
By Jesse Payne
Harlequin Enterprises, 2014, $16.95
Ages: YA, 14+, adult interest
Genre: mental health, nonfiction, teaching, creativity, success, biology
Many people don't realize, the brain continues developing until age 25. Just one example, the onset of puberty is the time when depression and anxiety disorders first appear-- in addition to all the body and mood changes, especially when there is a family history. As if there needs to be more confusion at this time! However, just being aware of the facts, understanding what is happening in the body, can help deal with the onslaught of emotions and situations that arise in life. This book offers excellent advice on brain health, covering a multitude of topics and fascinating research, including the effects of stress on the brain and body, and ways to improve brain health for a lifetime. I highly recommend this book for teens and adults, ages 14 and up.
By Amanda Panitch
Random House Books, 2015, $17.99
Genre: YA, psychological thriller, mental illness, mystery, romance
The Only Child
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015, $19.99
Genre: children’s books, fantasy, picture book, loneliness
The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
DK, 2015, $25.00
Ages: 12+, new adult and adult interest
Genre: nonfiction, biographies, sociology, science, education
I found this book and its concepts utterly fascinating, especially as I research more into environmental impacts on mental illness. Looking at the evolution of society and its standards throughout history, this book is thought-provoking, insightful, and filled with interesting information!
All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
Knopf Books, 2015, $17.99
Ages: Young Adult
Genre: contemporary, romance, fiction, suicide, depression, mental illness
Realistic Fiction and Nonfiction About Mental Illness
All the Major Constellations: A Novel
By Pratima Cranse
Viking, 2015, $16.99
Age: Young Adult
Genre: contemporary realistic, coma, grief, religion, mental health
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure
By Caroline Paul
Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton
Bloomsbury, 2016, $18.00
Genre: adventure, courage, failure, autobiography, memoir, feminism
Spotlight by Taya D.
This reader thinks this is a book every girl must read!
The Distance from Me to You
By Marina Gessner
Putnam, 2015, $16.99
Genre: YA, romance, abuse, mental illness
Unhinge: A Novel
By Calia Read
Ballantine Books, 2016, $16.00
Age: Young Adult
Genre: mental illness, mental institute, romance