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Book Selections for Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Written by O'Connor Professional Group
Published on November 18, 2021

My kind and gentle giant of a brother ended his life abruptly three decades ago. In the wake of his death, we who loved him were left with hearts full of pain and despair and questioning many times over what we could have done to avert this senseless tragedy. It wasn’t until many years later that I found some semblance of peace and acceptance and developed an open and free voice to tell my family’s story to help others struggling with similar issues. 

The nation agrees…it’s time to get the word out there. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and this year, National Suicide Prevention Week is September 5-11. The purpose of this recognition is multifold, including raising public awareness about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide, reducing the stigma around suicide to encourage open and honest discussion, and providing hope to those affected by suicide. The ultimate goal is to ensure that individuals, families, and friends know about and have easy access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and seek help. 

In the spirit of these goals and to promote overall awareness, below we are providing a listing of books discussing varying topics related to suicide, from books explaining the latest research to books providing understanding for those who are struggling and feeling alone, as well as books giving comfort to survivors who have lost friends or loved ones to suicide. Several books are geared toward parents in particular, and one book emphasizes helping men specifically to identify and process difficult emotions. We hope you find selections helpful to your area of interest. Please note these books are not intended to replace the advice of a medical or mental health professional.

* If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in a crisis or experiencing difficult thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). We recommend finding immediate medical or clinical support if you have concerns about your health or the health of another. 

Barber Talk: Taking Pride in Men’s Mental Health, Tom Chapman

After losing a friend suddenly to suicide, Tom Chapman founded an international group, known as the  ‘Lions Barber Collective’, to encourage conversation and raise awareness for the prevention of suicide; this book is a guide to help men process difficult emotions when a loved one dies by suicide.

No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One, Carla Fine

Although conversations about mental health are increasing in recent years, some may still have difficulty talking about suicide, and the author, whose husband took his life in 1989, shares how she came to speak honestly about her feelings of anger, hurt, guilt, and confusion.

Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig

This life-affirming memoir provides hope and discusses the author’s journey of battling depression to come out to the other side, by finding reasons to stay alive and appreciating the little joys in life.

The Neuroscience of Suicidal Behavior, Kees Van Heeringen

Professor Kees van Herringen describes how current research shows how the brain reacts to traumatic life stressors that may lead to suicidal thoughts and how suicide can be prevented.

Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, Kay Redfield Jamison

Internationally acknowledged authority on depressive disorders, Dr. Jamison explores the historical and scientific aspects of suicide to help readers understand the suicidal mind, identify and help those at risk, and look at the profound effects on those left behind.

Why People Die by Suicide, Thomas Joiner

Drawing from personal experience and years of research, clinical psychologist Thomas Joiner discusses why people may consider suicide.

Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide, Gary Roe

Counselor Gary Roe discusses how to connect with those around you and how to find self-compassion when dealing with the death of a loved one by suicide.

The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression, Olivia Sagan, and James Withey

Originally a series of online posts, this book sets forth letters written by people living with depression to show those who are struggling currently that they are not alone and provide a sense of optimism to them.

Helping Your Child Cope with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts, Tonia K. Shamoo and Philip G. Patros

This book serves as a guide to help parents not only learn how to talk, listen, and communicate with a depressed child, but also identify what situations can arise to cause their child to have suicidal thoughts and what signs to look for.

If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For, Jamie Tworkowski and Donald Miller

This book presents a compilation of essays that range from personal accounts of struggling to words of strength and encouragement as an invitation for readers to recognize that it’s okay both to acknowledge the pain and to ask for help in challenging.

You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, Dena Yohe

Dena Yohe provides comfort for parents feeling distraught over a child in the midst of a mental health crisis and lets parents know they are neither alone nor bad parents and they will ultimately be okay.

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