For some reason i read alot of depressing books. Maybe the fact that the simple written word can effect me so is what makes me enjoy them. That and how well they are written. There are two books in particular that i feel the need to mention at least once on this blog. The pact by Jodi Picoult and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Each book confronts the issue of suicide and takes a look at the situation from different angles.
Thirteen Reasons Why is told from the perspective of Clay as he listens to audio tapes that his classmate Hannah recorded before she committed suicide. Through the tapes Hannah explains that there are thirteen people that did something to her that led to her ending her own life. Clay listens to each tape dreading the one that would be about him but at the same time desperate to know what he did to hurt Hannah so deeply.
This book shows that there is more to suicide than simply someone taking extreme measures to end their depression. It goes from the moment that started Hannah's downward spiral through to her last try at living. The book was written so well that you truely experience what Clay feels. You learn that Hannah was someone he always wanted to get to know, but because he was afraid to he only got to know her after she was gone.
There was a particular scene in the book that moved me to tears. When Clay is listening to a tape about Hannah finally giving up. As she retells the moment when she let herself be used, Clay cries out and punches at a wire fence. He knows she can't hear him when he shouts for her not to give up, he knows that he can't change a thing, because she is already gone. For a moment i realised how real this book was. If i could feel the pain of a fictional character then how deeply must it hurt to really go through it? I truely admire Jay Ashers talent and his work.
The pact by Jodi Picoult is a lot more detailed in its look at the issue. The pact is in adult fiction while thirteen reasons why is teen fiction, with good reason. The pact takes the issue of suicide, pulls it apart, annalises it, pulls it apart once more and leaves you feeling everything the characters feel. The story, unlike Thirteen Reasons Why, is told from different perspectives while also taking looks at the past. It is much more complex but just as, if not more, devestating.
The pact begins with a young couple, Chris and Emily, sitting alone together. Then a shot is fired. When they discover Chris passed out beside Emily's body he claims that they had planned a suicide pact, but when she shot herself the sight of the blood made him faint. It starts with a chapter from Emily's mother, Melanie's point of view. It takes you through the experience she has when she hears the news that not only was her daughter gone, but it was what Emily had wanted, and that the boy that had lived next door, that had known Emily from the day she was born, that was like a son to Melanie, had been there but still lived.
And that was just the start of the first chapter. Every second chapter it reverts to the past, from when Melanie is pregnant with Emily, and by the end of the book, to the moment when Emily's life ended. It shows the situation from every point of view: Emily's mother, her father and Chris, his mother, his father, his lawyer, and during the later chapters of the past it is from the view of Emily herself.
It shows how someone taking their own life ends the pain for them but causes so much more for everyone else. The two teenagers parents had been best friends since before Chris and Emily were born, yet when Emily is gone that friendship is ripped apart. Chris and Emily had been next door neighbours since Emily was born. "Because your two halves of a whole." is a line from the book about Emily and Chris. When she is gone Chris has lost his other half.
The book was so well written and so deeply moving, just like any Jodi Picoult book. At the end of the book it is as if they cannot be happy anymore, because she is gone. The book is quite depressing but it made me think. Suicide isn't just about the individual. There is so much more to it than that. If someone is suicidal it is not just a cry for help or an over reaction to sadness. It is real. There are so many more layers to it than i ever realised.
Before i read these books suicide was never something i thought of as a real issue. I have never known someone that was suicidal so the issue wasn't one i needed to confront. Then one day i stumbled apon thirteen reasons why at the library. I just added it to my pile of books and went home, not even realising i would do nothing but read that book the next day. That was just when i started thinking about it. I realised how one cruel moment could just be the begining. That it could lead to another devestating moment and another and another until the pain is too much.
Then one day i was in the book store and i stumbled apon a book that i now realise was definately not meant to be in the teen fiction. I got the book from the library and one depressing weekend later the pact was constantly making me think. I thought about how one horrid experience could fester and effect someone for their entire lives. . . and sometimes make them shorten that life. I thought about how when people are feeling something it doesn't just effect them, everyone around them is effected, and that the ending of a life can be the destruction of six others. Or more.
I also believe you can never understand what someone else is thinking. I don't believe there is such thing as a textbook case of depression because people are far too complex to have the same problems running through their head as someone else. Suicide is an issue, and a serious one at that. I just wish that the people thinking about ending it all didn't have a reason to, let alone thirteen of them. The world was designed for us especially, it shouldn't be so horrible. These two books made me think twice about everything i say, everything i do. It is so easy to miss the signs that someone is depressed because people aren't programed to see what they don't expect to be there.
So if you have ever had suicidal thoughts, please don't give up. There is so much more the world has to offer. If things are so bad that you want to end them all, talk to someone about it. Ask for help, you have nothing to lose but there is happiness to be gained. Don't let the world crush you, don't just lay down and take the beating that is life. Fight back. Tell the world that it can't beat you. Don't let the sadness win.
As for those of you that, like me, have never had suicidal thoughts, if you have ever made fun of someone, if you have ever made up a rumor or just done something plain horrible to make someone feel absolutely awful, appologise. If you ever think of playing a trick on someone or doing something to make their life uncomfortable, think twice. Your actions could stay with them for longer than you realise, festering into something worse than misery. If you do take something from this extremely long post other than two increadible books to look up, let it be this: What you do in this world matters.
ps: To any friends or family that are reading this, relax i am not nore have i ever been suicidal. I just like trying to work out things that don't make sense to me.