Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Next Day by John Porcellino, Paul Peterson and Jason Gilmore

This graphic novel starts with a warning.  "This graphic novella is built from intimate interviews with four people who have attempted suicide.  It includes descriptions of actual attempts and traumatic events that may be upsetting to some readers."  It is the story of four young people, Tina, Ryan, Chantel and Jenn, who all attempt suicide.  Each individual's story is told, leading up to their suicide attempt and what happened after.

I think it was a very brave thing to do.  Suicide, depression, and other mental illnesses are still taboo subjects.  It's something to be ashamed of and people don't like to talk about.  It was brave for these four individual's to share their stories and the struggles they face to this day, and it was brave for the authors to put it together and publish it.

I appreciated that different types of people were represented.  In some cases, like with Jenn and Chantel, physical abuse in their past lead to depression, eating disorders, alcohol abuse or cutting, and eventually, suicide attempts.

Ryan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  As an adult and after marriage, two children, divorce and drug abuse, he attempted suicide.

Tina came from a very happy home with involved, supportive parents.  This didn't prevent her from suffering from depression, which later leads to alcoholism.  After being raped while drunk she became even more depressed and tried to hang herself.

So we had people who experienced a traumatic event which lead to depression and other issues and eventually suicide attempts, and we had people who were born with mental illnesses that lead to depression and other issues and suicide attempts.

So we got to hear from people who were born with an illness, like Ryan and Tina, as well as people who had something outside of themselves happen that caused depression.  I think it's important to be aware of both situations and not think of one as more "real" than the other.

Realistically, everything isn't all better now with these people.  Ryan attempted suicide again, before accepting he had a disorder that required constant care.  Jenn seriously attempted suicide five or six times.  She is married with children now and is glad she wasn't successful.  Tina manages her depression with medication, but still has bad days. Chantel works in a hospital, often working with people who have attempted suicide.

The art was very stark and very simple.  It looked like a young child with one colored pencil drew the whole thing.  There was no detail work.  It worked very well with the tone and subject of the book.

I know this isn't one you'd just pick up and read, but I think it's an important book so I hope you'll check it out, and maybe even get it for your collection.  It might help someone.

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