15 Popular Teen Books About Suicide & Prevention

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Generation after generation, the pressures teens face change shapes and result in ever-increasing stresses, social pressures, and feelings to fit in or belong. Ever-changing, these anxieties call for relevant books and stories about suicide and suicide prevention.

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Because every teenager is unique, no single book about death works for everyone. Scroll through the list below for a storyline or genre to support and honor your needs or the needs of a loved one.

Best Nonfiction Books About Losing a Loved One to Suicide for Teenagers

The following books about grief offer actual perspectives from teenagers and adults, describing the journey of healing and recovery and advocating for better mental health and healing.

1. A Marshland of His Own by Gavin Zastrow

Author Gavin Zastrow wrote A Marshland of His Own after his friend died by suicide. At the time, loved ones and supporters encouraged him to chronicle his feelings and the events surrounding the process of healing, giving Zastrow the capacity to process the event.

Twenty-six years later, he revisited the story. Making only a few changes to the original, the story at large holds that same high school mind. There are stages that Zastrow goes through, each one building upon the last until he fully processes the suicide. It's then that the author begins his journey into adulthood.

Recommended for ages 14–18.

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2. When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Grieving & Healing by Marilyn E. Gootman Ed.D

Contrasting the gut-wrenching experience of a friend who's died by suicide is the calm, sympathetic voice of Marilyn E. Gootman, a teacher of some 30 years, in When a Friend Dies. Gootman is an advocate for teenagers, parents, and teachers, supporting the growth of successful kids and teenagers ranging from elementary school to college-aged students.

After her children suffered a loss, Gootman was inspired to use her skill as an educator and voice as a mother to help other children cope with suicide. Whether it's a close friend, acquaintance, or another classmate, teens need more help and resources to process their thoughts and feelings to become healthy, successful adults.

Recommended for ages 11 and up.

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3. The Suicide Epidemic by Bradley Steffens

In The Suicide Epidemic, author Bradley Steffens examines suicide as an epidemic, increasing annually, affecting teenagers and families more than ever before. It's more of an analytical approach to suicide rather than one of self-discovery. 

Critics of the book point out that the data Steffens provides in one scenario mislabels transgender boys. And instead of defining the differences in suicide rates for both transgender boys and transgender girls, he groups the statistics using transgender as one community.

Recommended for ages 12–17.

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4. Teen Suicide: The "Why" Behind America's Suicide Epidemic by Jeff Yalden

Use Teen Suicide: The "Why" Behind America's Suicide Epidemic to gain perspective and discover what mental health issues teens face today. While it won’t provide you with all of the answers, you’ll find some relevant ones to consider.

In the book, Yalden talks about mental health, social media, sexting, bullying, and the increased teen stresses about attaining perfection. Whether you’re a teen or parent, you’ll want to read the part about legal culpability and teen sexting. As it turns out, there are potentially some heavy legal consequences—even for parents.

Recommended for teens, parents, and counselors.

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Best Fiction Books About Losing a Loved One to Suicide for Teenagers

From heartache and suffering to finding alternatives to manage the pain, each suicide story below looks tries to make sense of the paths people take while inundated with pressures and anxieties from society. 

5. Stillwater by Mary Jo Hazard

The town of Stillwater is in upstate New York. There, 12-year-old Grace must navigate through some serious mental health struggles, including the truth about her father's death, friends with family problems, and a town arsonist. 

It's the 1950s, and as Grace and her friends, Maggie and Louanne, navigate through their pre-teen life, you'll discover timeless but essential lessons and pieces of advice about love and life, including the judgments placed on others for things they can't help.

Recommended for teens and young adults.

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6. Hannah Baker’s Fatal Flaw by Fonda L. Hart

Pressure on teens is more significant than it's ever been before, especially with the advent of social media. Teenager Hannah Baker has been navigating these increasing social pressures and rules, which result in a lot of trauma, depression, anxiety, and poor choices.

Author Fonda L. Hart, LMFT, is a trauma expert. Her ambition is to help others regain their strength and begin to thrive again. She uses Hannah Baker's Fatal Flaw as a starting point but then adds the alternatives one could practice to achieve better outcomes.

Recommended for teens and young adults.

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7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Alone, Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner inside a hotel room, leaving behind family and her best friend, Cody. Understandably, Cody's shocked, destroyed, and filled with survivor's guilt. Author Gayle Forman uses this opportunity to expose suicide from the survivor's perspective in I Was Here.

Cody's away at college but offers to travel to Meg's home in Tacoma, Washington, to pick up her things. Meg's parents are grateful, but Cody's about to discover some shocking truths and tragedies she never expected to find. 

Recommended for ages 14 and up.

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8. Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Gayle Forman, the author of I Was Here, comments that Nina LaCour's novel offers the "truest depiction of the aching, gaping hole left in the wake of a suicide." In it, Caitlin is frozen by her friend's suicide. Losing Ingrid has altered everything she recognized about life, including her place in the world.

After finding Ingrid's hidden journal, Caitlin reads it slowly. Each page and word help her overcome grief, work through the ache, but build momentum to keep moving on with her life. Reading the journal restores Caitlin's hope.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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9. Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

It's New Year's Day, and fifteen-year-old Jeff is in the psychiatric ward with bandaged wrists. Jeff is sure he doesn't belong there, but he's about to find out that he's got a lot in common with the others who are there with him.

In Suicide Notes, author Michael Thomas Ford creates an endearing cast of characters in the hospital, helping the reader experience pain and loss on different levels. Through Jeff's experiences, the reader will understand how suppression and keeping secrets can do more harm than good.

Recommended for ages 14 and up.

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10. Skim by Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki's graphic novel Skim looks at teenage life from a young Asian girl named Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka "Skim." She and the rest of the school go into mourning when a young boy from the school dies by suicide.

Tamaki approaches all the tough subjects that teens deal with today, including depression, love, anxiety, peer groups, and homosexuality. Critics suggest that it's forgettable, while fans say that it was thoughtfully written, with an illustration style that suits the storyline perfectly.

Recommended for ages 14 and up.

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Best Books About Suicide Prevention for Teenagers

It’s your journey. And the authors listed here are eager to help teenagers move through grief while helping them articulate and define what that future will look like. 

11. I Would, But My DAMN MIND Won't Let Me!: A Guide for Teen Girls. How to Understand and Control Your Thoughts and Feelings by Jacqui Letran

Jacqui Letran wants you to know that you're not too sensitive and that you don't need to just stop feeling something. Even if you feel like life is too difficult or seems unfair and hopeless, you can take charge of those emotions. You can also help your brain create happy, successful life experiences.

In I Would, But My DAMN MIND Won't Let Me!, she'll help you figure out how to take the control necessary to manage your life from today forward. To do that, Letran will help you challenge unhealthy thought patterns, create positive life experiences, stay calm and in control, and harness the power of your mind to ensure a better future.

Recommended for ages 13–18.

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12. The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The stigma of depression is a heavy load to bear, but Karen Fortunati wants readers to know through The Weight of Zero that they're not alone and there are options. Fortunati weaves the story around a girl struggling with bipolar depression and mental health struggles. 

To get ahead of her depression, protagonist Catherine "Cat" Pulaski creates a bucket list of things she’d like to accomplish before "Zero" (the name she calls her depression) returns.

In one of the most pointed commentaries in the book, Cat says, "And someone who has never felt it can never understand what the absence of emotion feels like. It is a hopelessness of incomprehensible, unspeakable weight."

Recommended for ages 14 and up.

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13. Depression: A Teen’s Guide to Survive and Thrive by Jacqueline B. Toner, Ph.D., and Claire A.B. Freeland, Ph.D.

Depression: A Teen's Guide to Survive and Thrive is about clinical depression. Authors Toner and Freeland, both psychologists, offer tips and coping mechanisms to follow at home and support mental health resilience. 

The top three are keeping a journal, developing strategies to change negative thoughts into positive ones, and keeping a list of people you can call when you need support. The ideas are easy, effective, and designed to support you in times of stress.

Recommended for teens and young adults.

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14. Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide by Jane Mersky Leder

In Dead Serious, author Jane Mersky Leder wrote her first novel over 30 years ago. In this new, updated version, a new set of stressors and anxieties face teens like sexual and gender identity, bullying, academic stress, social media, and more.

Today, teens struggle with more pressure than ever, leading to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Leder's goal is to help you discover the warning signs, take back control, set up a network, and find the right resources to help you manage your mental health in a positive, productive way.

Recommended for ages 13–17.

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15. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Craig Gilner is the protagonist and teen at the center of the comedy, It's Kind of a Funny Story. The social pressures he feels to be successful revolve around high school, grades, and getting into the right university to have the best chance at a future.

Craig's attempted suicide is a result of that pressure. After a suicide attempt, he's admitted to the psychiatric ward, where he meets new people, each with their unique stresses, anxieties, and problems.

When he's finally able to see outside of himself—empathize through their eyes, he also begins to understand what makes a person truly happy and the journey needed to get there.

Recommended for ages 12–18.

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September Is Suicide Awareness Month

Knowing the signs and learning about suicide risk and prevention improves teen mental health, increases student support structures, and paves an understanding for why you or your friends feel a certain way. 

Be sure to post #BeThe1 to help support suicide prevention and risk awareness this September.

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