Podcast Episode 176: Teen Book Club Talks About Mental Illness And Suicide Prevention

Thanks so much for coming by to check out Episode 176 of The New Family Podcast where we join a teen book club that tackles the tricky subjects of mental illness and suicide prevention.

This episode is a unique one, recorded on site at Lillian H. Smith public library in Toronto where a book club called A Room of Your Own has gathered to talk with bestselling young adult fiction author Jennifer Niven, who is in town from Los Angeles. This book club, founded by Tanya Marie Lee, is just for teen girls from under-privileged communities. At each event, members get in a room with the authors of the books they read, which are supplied ahead of the time by the authors and their publishers. Here they’re talking about Niven’s book All the Bright Places, which is being made into a film starring Elle Fanning.

The book is the story of two Indiana teenagers who become companions after finding themselves at the same spot contemplating suicide. The book club is also joined by Dr. Karen Wang, a child and youth psychologist, who we talk to for some advice for parents on how to handle the difficult topics of teen suicide and mental illness. We also capture the stories of some of the students who share their own struggles in brave and inspiring ways.

Here are some resources related to this episode.

A Room of Your Own — An Interactive Book Club for Teen Girls

All the Bright Places

Jennifer Niven’s website

Mental Health Resources

Kids Help Phone Canada 1-800-668-6868

Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) 1-800-273-8255

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

What’s Up Walk In website

Hospital for Sick Children Kids’ mental health website

Mood Disorders Association of Ontario website

MDAO Facebook Page

Related Episode: Parenting and Mental Health — How You and the Kids Can Thrive

Related Episode: Helping Kids Deal with Stress
Related Episode: Raising Happy Kids in a Stressful World

Related Episode: My Journey With My Sister

Related Article: Why This Teenager Thinks ‘13 Reasons Why’ Misses the Mark

Related Article: How to Cope When Your Child is Suffering from Mental Illness

Dr. Karen Wang’s advice for parents

“I often encourage parents to first of all be observant and notice if there are any changes in terms of their child’s behaviour cause depression leads to changes in mood, in thinking and behaviour. So if you have a very outgoing kid who is now suddenly very withdrawn, isolating themselves in their room – that could be a red flag. If you have a child who used play lots of different kinds of sports and now they’re complaining that they’re always tired, they have headaches, they have stomach aches, they’re much more irritable than usual – those can also be signs of depression in adolescence so the first step, instead of interrogating your child, like ‘do you have depression?’, cause sometimes the kids doesn’t even know what’s happening, is to really pay attention to some of the red flags.”

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Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by

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