Teen Suicide: A Raw and Honest Glimpse into the Darkness

November 14, 2013

Introducing PLEASE LOVE ME ...

Over the last few weeks I've listened to narrator Rebecca Robert's draft audio version of my first book, Truck Bodies. Listening to the word of my younger self reminded me how painfully close to my heart the book is, and how far I've come. As I listened, I had an epiphany about the value of the story, and what I needed to do to get the book in front of its natural audience (Intentional Practice & The Art of Finding Natural Audience).

I realized that the title needed to change, and so the book has been reborn as PLEASE LOVE ME. I also changed the cover, using my own art work. The piece selected is called "My Skin is Just a Suit I Wear" (2013). 

When I set out to put my story on paper nearly 25 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I only knew that it felt extremely important, and I painstakingly chipped away at it. Now, five books later, I realize that there was no way I could have seen the value in that raw honesty that way I do now. Back then, I desperately wanted it to have value. I was searching for meaning in the troubled years I'd finally managed to leave behind ... or so I thought. Some things never fully leave; I'm sure that can be seen in my art work.

At Seventeen (2011)
Now I realize that if anyone wants or needs to get a raw and real glimpse into the issue of teen suicide, it's an important book. Based on my background (read the book), I'm still somewhat terrified of my own honesty, of admitting even now the things that I did and felt, and not call it "fiction," but my younger self has led the way. 

My brother also leads the way. He committed suicide in July 2012. How can I walk away from his pain and not speak the truth? When someone says, "Someone's got to love me soon or I'm not going to make it," (whether they are 18 or 45), what does that really mean, and what can we do about it? What can I do to make a difference? Knowing that my brother found himself in that dark place years after I did, with no help from me, breaks my heart over and over again ...

Perhaps PLEASE LOVE ME can help someone else.

Perhaps it can help a lost teenager understand that there is hope. Perhaps it can help a parent understand what's going on with their child, or gain insight into what is needed. Perhaps it can help a culture or person who still breeds secrets to open up, to see that indoctrinating kids into too tight a frame can backfire when what they truly crave is unconditional love.

What is Happening Here? (detail, 2013)
I applaud all the phenomenal efforts to end bullying in our schools. Of course, no one should ever be bullied. But the truth is, throughout life we all run into people and situations that can potentially strip away our self-worth. There will always be a bully. And there are real bullies and perceived bullies. Life's bullying takes the greatest toll on those of us who grow up without a shaky sense of self (which can occur for a multitude of reasons). By limiting the issue of teen suicide to eradication of bullying alone will not wipe out teen suicide. Suicide ultimately results from feelings of profound hopelessness, and some of us are much more vulnerable to that; the most savvy bully's know how to find us, even the one's in our own heads.

I've been on a journey toward honesty for some time. And as hard as I try to get there, I still resist. I beat around the bush. I hint. It makes me wonder how many of us put up facades and stand together, alone in a crowd, because we're so afraid to be the one who drops the mask and says, "Look at me, the real me, and see that you're not alone? Help me and let me help you." My fear is that my mask will drop and instead of being brave enough to also be honest, the crowd will turn on me or simply ignore me standing there exposed. That the crowd will become another bully in my life. I suspect a lot of us feel that way? Meanwhile those coming up behind us suffer, thinking we're as solid and together as the masks we wear ... that we couldn't possibly understand any pain they may be working through.

How can we better instill in teenagers how valuable and full of promise they are, how bright the future truly is, and the personal power they have to forge the way? That's the problem.

I'd like to be part of the solution.

About PLEASE LOVE ME:

For as long as she can remember, 17-year-old Peyton Bound has struggled to remain strong despite being lost in the whirlwind of her emotionally disturbed mother’s life … then she finds Matthew Adler at a frat party. He’s the first boy who kisses her with open eyes; Peyton finally sees herself in their sparkling reflection. She’s confident that her fairytale moment has finally arrived, the day when everything will magically fall into place, and the burdens of her disturbing childhood will begin to lift. But when everything goes wrong, Peyton can no longer run from the truth about herself. Something is missing, and no one can save her.

Artist and writer Penelope Przekop grew up in Louisiana during the 1970s and 80s. Despite fictional elements, PLEASE LOVE ME is her memoir; she is Peyton Bound, a character she created as a young adult to understand how she fell into a destructive relationship that led to a suicide attempt, and violent public cry for help. As she wrote the book, she realized it was about much more than first love gone wrong. It was about her dysfunctional childhood, her mentally ill mother, and her desperation to break free.

PLEASE LOVE ME gives a raw voice to some of the deepest issues contributing to teenage suicide. It is an honest look into the human spirit's need for love and truth in a world full of craziness, and just how far some will go to find it.
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Please share information about PLEASE LOVE ME with anyone in your life who may have interest. The book is available in print and Kindle formats. The audio version is coming soon.

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