Suicide in contemporary young adult novels

Michelle Falkoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Teen readers have long had an interest in reading novels about suicide, but their interest has increased substantially since the publication of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why in 2007. Books published in recent years look at suicide from multiple perspectives, from those left behind in the wake of suicide (as in Cynthia Hand's The Last Time We Say Goodbye and Emily X.R. Pan's The Astonishing Color of After) to those who are suicidal themselves (such as in Jasmine Warga's My Heart and Other Black Holes and Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places). Though many of these books provide valuable insight for teen readers who engage in suicidal ideation or who want to understand the motivations of those who contemplate suicide or have taken their own lives, there are also books that may prove harmful for vulnerable readers, particularly given the age range of the readership. This chapter will examine the benefits and challenges of taking on this complex topic for a teen audience and will evaluate some of the existing literature to determine what makes some novels effective and others potentially damaging. Specifically, it will look at the strategies writers adopt to communicate this difficult subject matter, including evaluation of characters, structure, and language across multiple novels that address the topic in a variety of ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSuicide in Modern Literature
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Causes, Existential Reasons, and Prevention Strategies
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783030693923
ISBN (Print)9783030693916
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine
  • General Arts and Humanities


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