Today is World Suicide Prevention Day 2017, a day to gather in support of those affected by suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Suicide and mental illness are not topics discussed openly or often, but there are many popular young adult books that examine the lives of people dealing with mental illness and affected by suicide that can help give you more insight, feel understood, and know that no one truly faces these challenges alone. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below with our take on the story’s messages and influence.
Take a look below, and find out more about World Suicide Prevention Day here.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Jennifer Niven tells a beautiful story drawn from her own personal experience that’s brutally honest and sharp. There are so many fluff novels about people meeting someone and being “saved from themselves”. This story shows the full spectrum of mental illness while exploring the relationship between two teens battling their own forms. It also explores the society’s aversion to dealing with mental illness and the ways that behavior fails those in need of help.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
After Cody’s best friend, Meg, unexpectedly commits suicide, she learns a harsh lesson: You can never truly know or affect what lies in someone else’s heart. Meg hid her depression. Now, Cody journeys to Meg’s college campus to discover the life her friend lived away from her and try to discover what drove her down that path. Of course, the answers don’t always make sense or come easily.
It’s Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Ned Vizzini lost his battle against depression in 2013, but before that, he gave the world a gift. Based on his own experience, his novel explores a perfectionist teen’s stay in a mental institution after a suicide attempt. While there, Craig learns more than he ever expected about mental illness, his own anxiety, and the different paths to contentedness.
My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
With some of the best descriptions of the “black slug” that is depression, Jasmine Warga’s debut novel follows a girl whose family’s public shame has driven her to the brink, at which time she makes a suicide pact with a stranger named Roman. The novel is both tragic and life-affirming, discussing why some people consider death and why opening up to others matters.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Cynthia Hand deals with the idea of loss and grief in her Unearthly series, but takes it to a much deeper, more realistic level in this novel about a teen dealing with her brother’s suicide. Tyler’s death has completely overtaken the life of his sister, Lexi, who blames herself for his death and struggles with depression of her own. It’s a hard read, exploring gut-wrenching grief with blunt truths, but it’s important.
The Program by Suzanne Young
This dystopian imagines a society in which suicide rates have reached a record high, particularly among teens, and science has come up with an extreme solution. At the first sign of possible depression (read: any hint of unfavorable emotion), they wipe the teen’s memories and rewire their whole existence through the program. It’s certainly the most action-filled title on the list, but there’s an important message in there: Our experiences matter even when they’re not particularly happy, and society’s habit of sweeping mental illness under the rug only hurts the population as a whole.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Jay Asher’s story comes from two perspectives: Flashbacks from Hannah, a girl who killed herself just weeks ago, and in real time with Clay, a boy who Hannah points out as a contributing factor in a series of audio tapes she left behind. Disturbing and well-written, Hannah’s story is a study of how many cases of depression develop that will stick with you for a lifetime.