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BOOK CORNER: Grief recovery specialist writes book on preventing teen suicide

Depression and suicide are not topics Americans like to talk about. But author and educator Kristi Hugstad believes that is precisely the reason we do need to talk about them.

“It’s not an easy topic to discuss,” Hugstad said. “It’s awkward and uncomfortable to bring it up, which is why we tend to avoid it.

“But talking about it could save someone’s life, especially if you know how to recognize the signs of depression and how to discuss it.”

That’s why Hugstad has written a new book about recognizing the warning signs of depression and suicide, “Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis” (New World Library).

The book offers facts about depression and suicide as well as personal stories to help the points resonate. It also includes sections about how to start a conversation about depression. 

“Handling the conversation inappropriately can do more harm than good,” Hugstad said. “That’s why it’s so important to know how to begin the discussion.”

The book is aimed at teens since suicide is the second leading cause of death among Americans, age 15 to 24 (automobile accidents are No. 1) Statistics show in 2016, there were 13.2 suicides out of every 100,000 people under age 25 in America. 

Hugstad hopes to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues and depression.

She describes “Beneath the Surface” as an “educational suicide prevention tool for teens, parents, teachers, and anyone working with our youth.” In the book, she talks with the teens rather than at the teens, which is the mistake adults often make when trying to discuss sensitive topics with teens.

Beyond suicide and depression, “Beneath the Surface” also has sections discussing issues like bullying, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse and gender confusion. She notes that today’s teens face all the same issues their parents did as teenagers — raging hormones, cliques and peer pressure — but are further confronted with issues around social media where bullying can be especially intense, plus issues like gun violence, mass shootings and climate change. 

Although written to teens, many of the same issues discussed can apply to adults as well. 

The book is available via on