This brief account of Frank’s experience is direct and powered by emotion. “Were they accusing us? Were they apologizing to us? Were they pleading for help?” he wonders as he looks into his late son’s eyes, questions he knows will haunt him the rest of his life. He recognizes that, before encountering suicide firsthand, he assumed “that suicide was due to someone’s own weakness.” Now he urges empathy and understanding, while also unleashing fury on the “criminal negligence” of a health care system that believes depression can be diagnosed with a form. This venting may seem contrary to the book’s mission of solace, and it’s unclear whether it’s written with legal expertise, but the expression of frustration can be a crucial part of working through trauma. Frank’s anger could help some readers face the grieving process–and the forms in which such feelings can be expressed.
Though Frank includes a trigger warning in the preface, there is value in stating in this review this memoir includes a graphic depiction of death, and some of the language surrounding suicide is dated. Still, Frank succeeds in his admirable goals of building empathy for those facing depression and suicidal ideation, encouraging an end to the stigma against death by suicide, and exhorting us all to act kindly.
Takeaway: A father’s reckoning with the loss of his son will both pull at heartstrings and inspire readers to be kind.
Great for fans of: Thomas Joiner’s Why People Die By Suicide, Brandy Lidbeck’s The Gift of Second: Healing From the Impact of Suicide.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: B