Suicide Watch by Kelley York
Published by Self Published on December 16th, 2012
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Buy on Amazon
Vincent has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades suck. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might've finally found a place to get his life--and his issues--in order.When Maggie dies, it all falls apart.A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge. He's starting to think she had the right idea. Through a pro-suicide forum, Vince meets others with the same debate regarding death: cancer-ridden Casper would rather off herself than slowly waste away, and there's quiet, withdrawn Adam, whose mother wouldn't notice if he fell off the face of the planet.As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie, coming to terms with Casper's imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn't plan on sticking around.
This is going to be one of my more serious posts.
It was hard to decide to read this book. I won’t bore you with too much back history, but I will try to touch upon it. My own sister attempted suicide when she was in high school. She survived, but the splinters of the decision worked into the skin of our family unit. We weren’t a perfect family. My father left my mom due to depression when I was in kindergarten, and he began to grow distant from us when we remarried when I was in 3rd grade. His new wife hated us. My mother remarried to someone I strongly disliked as well. Rampant manic depression and crippling anxiety was unkindly given to both my little sister and I on both sides of the family. Outside of the family, school life wasn’t working out as well. I struggled with interaction with peers daily, since I was fighting an unknown mental illness. I wasn’t anywhere near pretty or feminine. I loved things that were unpopular during my high school years, such as video games and role playing. Other girls loved Clueless, and I was caught up on animated shows and Nintendo. I didn’t fit in, and everyone reminded me. My mother, at the time, was fighting her own issues and thought the best way to deal with her daughters’ mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks was to just ignore them and hope that we would just “grow up”.
It was not the best of times. But we could no longer ignore what was happening to each of us.
It is weird how the universe plays out. My sister attempted to end her own pain on Valentine’s Day (the holiday was not the reason – she had other issues that forced her hand). It happened on a Tuesday. I had stored back the pills for my own attempt for that weekend, not knowing that she was planning the same thing. My sister was handed over to a mental hospital, and I was hauled into the doctor once she was diagnosed with manic depression. I talked to the doctor, and an hour later, I was handed a prescription. He later told my mother that I was barely functioning. My grades were bad and I would just sit for hours in my room, listening to music, because I just didn’t have the will to do anything else.
Those pills saved my life. My sister’s own suicide attempt did the same thing. This happened over ten years ago. Her kidneys have permanent damage, but she’s alive. My mother has calmed down in her older age, and she is the mother I have always wanted. I just flat out do not talk to my father any longer since I stood up to my stepmother and told her she was a bully to my sister and I when we were growing up. Things have gotten way better from my teen years.
But the battle is never over.
We both still fight it every day. I’m smart enough to tell people when I am feeling really, really, really down. During all of this transition time, when I finally graduated, failed at finding a job I liked, had my car break down, lost my apartment, and took up a summer job that nearly drove me to my breaking point, I was smart enough to go to my mother and tell her I would honestly rather die than to keep going.
I’m better now. I am back on my medication and I am trying to see the silver lining during these rough times.
So reading a book about suicide, especially during this time, worried me.
But it actually made me stronger. The main character, fresh, new adult member of society Vincent, mirrored a lot of my own issues. He is a fictional character, but his own bouts of depression and emotional turmoil mirrored my own issues, and I instantly felt a strong connection to his own wild fits of emotional onslaught. We were alike, and for 220 pages, I finally felt that someone KNEW HOW I FELT EVERY DAY. Crying over the stupidest shit while feeling nothing over tragic occurrences. The constant fear of others disliking you for who you are, and the pain of rejection. The constant procrastination of daily living and the inability to look ahead when things are tough. Yes, Vincent, others feel the way you do.
And then Casper, the wonderfully bitchy and sickly female lead, beats it into his head that he is broken, but he can be fixed. In Depression Land, we need the Caspers to come raging in and shake up the bleakness of the landscape. Sometimes, the painful truth of honesty is a bitter pill that can tip off the healing. The love of those who have lost all hope, who have no future, can align the misery of mental sickness.
The details surrounding the Suicide Watch website and storyline was majorly overshadowed by the emotional and social growth of the main character. I would have liked to see more of the plot surrounding the pro-suicide website and the others who ran to it in their most painful times, but I also needed to see someone recovering from the savage mental battle of depression and what to do when you have no idea how to recover from your world shattering.
This book is about hope, and how mending takes time and other people. How we can help one another when the chips are down. The story is about love when you think there is no more love to be found. York is point blank honest: You are a broken brain functioning in a body, but it isn’t forever if you just let others in. It’s hard – letting people see the broken pieces inside of you. You just want someone to love you, shitty brain chemistry and all.
So, final thoughts: This book derails from the arc surrounding the moral standings of a pro-suicide website and instead turns the focus on a young boy coming to terms with his own issues while pulling two other broken teenagers along for the ride. This book is going to hurt like a bitch, and it is going to be a shot of bittersweet reality about mental illness and how to function. It is ugly, and it is beautiful for that reason.
For someone who can phrase it better, check out Ally Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half post about living with depression.
I don’t want to leave this post on a sad note, so here is a kitten: