Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the 15- to 24-year-old age group. That’s an alarming statistic overall, but particularly sad for an age group that could have so much to live for.
Young adult literature addresses dark topics, including depression and suicide, and there’s been a noticeable increase in the the number of titles published that explore the topic. I recently read two books that tackle suicide and depression in very different ways, but both in a very forthcoming and head-on manner.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is about two teens who meet on the ledge of the bell tower at their high school. Theodore is obsessed with death and how he might kills himself, while Violet, trying to escape the memories of her sister’s death, dreams of the future. The two embark on a class project together, with Violet learning to surpass her grief and live life. But Theodore’s issues grow and overpower his will to live.
In I Was Here by Gayle Forman, Cody is overwhelmed by grief when her best friend kills herself by ingesting a bottle of cleaning fluid. What ensues is a murder mystery into Cody’s investigation of her friend’s death—a journey into the seduction of suicide and the seductive online groups that encourage it.
Both titles were extraordinarily complex, but I Was Here is darker and more graphic in its approach. In fact, the title has received many opposing viewpoints in the reviews, but is popular with the teen crowd, as are most books by Forman. All the Bright Places is Niven’s first young adult novel, is a New York Times bestseller, and is soon to be a major motion picture