Delve Into ‘Suicide Notes: A Novel’ This Summer

Jacksonville State University


Are you looking for a great read now that summer is under way? Get in on the “Suicide Notes” craze that’s sweeping Jacksonville State University’s campus as students, faculty and staff pick up the common reading selection, “Suicide Notes: A Novel,” by Michael Thomas Ford. You’ll step into the shoes of Jeff as he tries to move forward with his life after attempting suicide.

What happens when a person survives a suicide attempt, and how does that individual move forward after such an event?  “Suicide Notes” answers this question in a series of journal entries, or “notes,” in which the 15-year-old protagonist, Jeff, recounts his 45-day stay in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. As he comprehends his own motivations, he also develops a better understanding of his fellow patients, each of whom has a unique story. These peers, the staff and his family all play a part in helping Jeff come to terms with his decision and move toward recovery.

In this coming of age story, Jeff learns to cope with depression and suicide, while also learning empathy for those around him. But, most importantly, Jeff must learn to accept who he is. The same could be said about millions of first-year college students across the country each year, as they pack their bags and move away from everything they’ve ever known. Coping with stress, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts has become a dark reality on college campuses, and JSU is committed to bringing these important issues into the light.

Each year, the JSU Reads committee selects one book to serve as a unifying force and promote thought-provoking discussion among freshmen students. Introduced to the common reading selection at orientation, freshmen go on to study it during their English composition and First-Year Student Experience courses. Faculty, staff and upperclassmen are encouraged to read it as well.

One group that gets a head start on reading the selection each year is the team of JSU GO! Leaders and Coordinators. Responsible for guiding students around on orientation days during the summer, every GO! Leader is expected to have read the book before Orientation gets started each year.

“I liked it because it kept me engaged,” said GO! Leader Jenna Bennett, who is a junior majoring in finance. “The reading level was not too serious or difficult to understand which made it an easier read. I took away the message that we should not judge or neglect others because we don’t know what they might be facing in their personal life. We should also refrain from labeling and stereotyping people that we assume to be a certain ‘type’ (in this case, the ‘crazies’).”

GO! Leader Reyna Ramirez, a senior majoring in nursing, believes incoming students will benefit from the message behind “Suicide Notes.”

“’Suicide Notes’ will be helpful for freshmen to get an insight on the different community they are about to go into,” she said. “College is full of diverse people who go through different things, so I think this book will either help students understand or be more empathetic toward others who go through these things or it will show them they are not alone.”

For more information on the Common Reading program, please click here.


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