At a time of year when so many of us are full of happiness and excitement, it isn’t the same for everyone. It can be very hard for those living with mental health issues or loneliness and so I felt that, although Dead Serious by Jane Mersky Leder isn’t out for another month, I would put out this blog post in the run up to all the festivities because I feel Jane is tackling such an important issue.
Thirty years after it was first published, a totally updated and revised Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide will be rereleased on 23rd January 2018 and is available for pre-order from your local Amazon site.
My brother took his own life on his thirtieth birthday. My life has never been the same.
Thirty plus years after publishing the first edition of Dead Serious, this second completely revised and updated edition covers new ground: bullying, social media, LGBTQ teens, suicide prevention programs, and more.
Scores of teens share their stories that are often filled with hurt, disappointment, shame–yet often hope. Written for teens, adults and educators, Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide explores the current cultural and social landscape and how the pressure-filled lives of teens today can lead to anxiety, depression–suicide.
Jane Mersky Leder’s own journey of discovery after her brother’s suicide informs her goal of helping to prevent teen suicide by empowering teens who are suffering and teens who can serve as peer leaders and connectors to trusted adults. The skyrocketing number of teens who take their own lives makes Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide more relevant and important than ever.
“Talking about suicide does not make matters worse. What makes matters worse is not talking.”
Now More Than Ever
A Guest Post by Jane Mersky Leder
I wrote the 1st edition of Dead Serious, a book about teen suicide, in 1987. Thirty years ago and counting. So, why in the world would I revisit the subject now? Simple: “NPR Live” aired a segment on suicides in middle school and the staggering increase in the number of kids ages 10 to 14 who took their own lives between 2007 and 2014. “Well,” I said, “I guess it’s time for me to go back to work.”
There are only educated guesses as to why more young people in middle school are choosing to die. But the facts about teen suicide are indisputable.
- In 2015, the suicide rate among girls between 15 and 19 reached a 40-year high
- Between 2007 and 2015, the suicide rate for those girls doubled
- For young males, there was a 30 percent increase
While we can never know for sure, the best estimates show that more than 5,240 teens attempt suicide every day. More than five thousand die every year. That’s more teens than die from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.
And the news gets worse (as if it could) because the most recent survey reports that suicide attempts for LGB teens are four times greater than for their straight peers.
Those stats are reason enough for me to pick up where I left off thirty years ago. But when you think about the changes in the social and cultural landscape, it’s impossible to ignore how different our society is today. In 1987, there were few, if any, home computers. There was no social media. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram. There were no cell phones. (Imagine!) Homes were “safe” zones that gave kids who were bullied a cover. LGBT kids (adults) were, for the most part, in the proverbial “closet.” Talking about physical and sexual abuse was taboo. Academic pressure hadn’t reached the fever pitch it is today.
My brother took his life on his thirtieth birthday. My search for answers is ongoing. Writing Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide hopefully shines a brighter light on others’ stories and on my own.
(Thanks so much for sharing this with us Jane. I’m so sorry for your loss, but hope that your brother’s death and this book that has arisen out of it can help others who may be feeling suicidal too. Good luck with Dead Serious.)
About Jane Mersky Leder
Jane Mersky Leder was born in Detroit, Michigan. The “Motor City” and original home of Motown have driven her writing from the start. A “Baby Boomer” who came of age in the Sixties, Jane is fascinated by the complexities of relationships between generations, between genders, and between our personal and public personas.
Dead Serious, a book about teen suicide, was named a YASD Best Book for Young Adults.
The second edition of Dead Serious (with a new subtitle): Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide, will be published on January 23, 2018, and will be available as both an ebook and paperback on major online book sites, at libraries, and at select bookstores.
The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives, and Thanks For The Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II are among Leder’s other books. Leder’s feature articles have appeared in numerous publications, including American Heritage, Psychology Today, and Woman’s Day.
She currently spends her time in Evanston, Illinois, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.