A News Café’s Online Book Club Recognizes Suicide Prevention Month

We so enjoyed our last book club experience that we decided to try it again.

Because aNewsCafe.com readers are a smart bunch who can handle heavy topics, we’ve chosen another difficult, weighty topic that couldn’t be discussed without slams and tsks and twitters few places except here.

Those of you who know my life story know that suicide is a subject close to my heart. I’ll explain more about that in a moment.

A News Café has once again partnered with the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency and the community-based Suicide Prevention Workgroup to host the online book club. This time, the Book Club will convene in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, September 4-10.

I know. Suicide’s such a total downer. Why couldn’t we selected happier, more uplifting subjects?

Here’s why: More than 7 in 10 people in Shasta County know someone who has died by suicide. These are our friends, family and neighbors, and too often, stigma discourages these survivors of suicide loss from talking about their loved one or seeking the help they need.

My mother took her own life in 1969 when she was 42 years old. I was 12. Many years have passed since then, but still I carry with me the scars of her suicide. I’m haunted by wondering if there were any way she might have survived and be alive today. Later, when I was 15 and living in a foster home and feeling hopeless, I took an overdose in an attempt to make the pain of loss and hopelessness go away. I feel embarrassed even to write those words.

Often when people speak of skeletons in family closets, suicide is among people’s most dark and “shameful” secrets. It’s as if somehow, the act of taking one’s life is so distasteful and horrible that we shouldn’t mention it. And if it’s a family member, we’re guilty by association.

When I shared with you in October the fact that I’d fought suicidal thoughts after learning of the triple betrayal by my former husband’s infidelity with my former friend – both my business partners – the thought crossed my mind that to confess this shortcoming would be an admission of weakness and mental imbalance, not to mention a pretty lousy role model for readers.

Thank God, with the help of therapy, anti-depressants and the support of Jazzercise, friends and family, that feeling passed. Today I’m here to tell about it and embrace my future, and with it the good times and bad times.  I’m just one person whose family has suffered suicide’s generational ripple effect. I’ll bet most of you have a suicide story about your own family or circle of friends. This is a safe place to talk about it if you want.

This online book club is one of several community activities designed to bring awareness to the issue of suicide and promote understanding that suicide prevention is everybody’s business.

Will’s Choice” was chosen for the book club by the Suicide Prevention Workgroup. It’s a compelling chronicle of depression, a suicide attempt and recovery. As Will states in the epilogue, “All stories change, even if the same person is telling them. All that really matters is who is listening.” The author and contributing writers look at depression, suicide, mental health care and recovery with unflinching honesty, compassion and some humor.

Participation in the online book club is easy. First, you can find “Will’s Choice” at the Redding Library (check our special display upstairs), the Shasta College Bookstore or Barnes and Noble. The book is also available through online bookstores and for Nook and Kindle. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll start the discussion and invite you to share your thoughts and ideas. We also invite you to share other books on the topic that have touched or moved you (this one isn’t available on audio book, so if you find a fantastic book on CD about suicide, please share!).

I’ve got my copy of “Will’s Choice” and am reading it this week while I’m taking a little vacation. I really hope you’ll get a copy of the book and read along so we can compare notes.

As with the last book club, even if you don’t read this particular book, the topic is what’s most important. I’d love to hear your thoughts about suicide, the stigma, the solution, and anything else.

See you soon.

Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate; and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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