This is the Strength Of Us
I have just heard the sad news: YA fiction author Ned Vizzini has died aged 32. He committed suicide.
Vizzini wrote Be More Chill (2004) and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2006), the latter being adapted for screen in a fantastic film interpretation of the same name. When I first saw the news of his death I didn’t immediately click on who it was. Only when I saw the latter title did I realise who Ned Vizzini was. I am yet to read any of his novels, however the film version of Funny Story made me want to read it. I’m afraid I’m still yet to do so.
I hate that my first post in a while is on such a sensitive subject as suicide, but it seems to be one that is coming up a lot in my life recently. Just tonight, in fact, I was watching Text Santa and got to see the inspirational stories of hardships overcome with the help of the charities involved. Unfortunately, there was one story which I can’t say had such a positive feel to it. Although the segment was about an anti-bullying campaign and the wonderful work the charity does, I couldn’t get past the story of the 17 year old lad who had been bullied all his life and eventually committed suicide after a failed attempt a few years previous.
Suicide is a touchy subject with me. Perhaps because I’ve come close enough to know how it feels. To feel so hopeless, helpless … and seeing the story of the 17 year old in question hit me like a tonne of bricks. For a few minutes my entire being felt like it was being crushed. My heart and soul went proverbially out to him and his family and I was instantly reminded of the old school friend of mine who took his own life a few months ago (rest in peace, my friend). And now with the story of a man who was only 32, had a wife and child, yet was driven to kill himself nonetheless.
Below is a quote I found online:
“What I would like young adults to take away from It’s Kind of a Funny Story is that if you’re feeling suicidal, call a hotline,” Vizzini said in an interview with Strength of Us, an online community developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, after the film version of Funny Story was released. “Suicidal ideation really is a medical emergency and if more people knew to call the suicide hotline we’d have less suicides. One number, as related in the book (and just verified on Google), is 1-800-SUICIDE .”
This is absolutely true. As Vizzini said, if more people called the suicide hotline, it is indeed likely that there would be less suicides. And it’s such an easy number to remember. 1-800-SUICIDE.
The film It’s Kind of a Funny Story always makes me cry at the end. I don’t wish to give away spoilers so I’ll call **SPOILER ALERT** now and continue. As our leading character is listing off the things he wants to do with his life, he ends with one word. “Breathe”. This hits me every time. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m just telling it as it is, but the first thought that goes through my head every time I hear that final word is “Why can’t I think like that?” Why can’t I want to enjoy the little things. To just breathe. It hurts that this is the first thing I think of, but perhaps it’s a good thing. As long as I’m still thinking this, I have something to improve. I have something to aim for. After my initial breakdown I cry, I think, I rebuild. What It’s Kind of a Funny Story does, and I’m sure Vizzini meant for this to be the point when he wrote the book, is to make you come away wanting to live.
It’s a massive shame that Vizzini committed suicide, and the same can be said for the 17 year old in the campaign, and the boy from my school. I won’t pretend to know what was going through any of their minds, but I do know the feeling. And I also know there are people and services to help prevent it. People who are there to support those in need when it matters most.
So I suppose what this post is about, is to spread the word that if ever you or someone you know is standing on the edge of self-destruction, never forget that help is out there.
Call a hotline. Call a friend. Go to A and E. Contact Strength of Us.