Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery

Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery

by Gail Griffith
     
 

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On March 11, 2001, seventeen-year-old Will ingested a near-fatal dose of his antidepressant medication, an event that would forever change his life and the lives of his family. In Will's Choice, his mother, Gail Griffith, tells the story of her family's struggle to renew Will's interest in life and to regain their equilibrium in the aftermath.See more details below

Overview

On March 11, 2001, seventeen-year-old Will ingested a near-fatal dose of his antidepressant medication, an event that would forever change his life and the lives of his family. In Will's Choice, his mother, Gail Griffith, tells the story of her family's struggle to renew Will's interest in life and to regain their equilibrium in the aftermath.

Griffith intersperses her own finely wrought prose with dozens of letters and journal entries from family and friends, including many from Will himself. A memoir with a social conscience, Will's Choice lays bare the social and political challenges that American families face in combating this most mysterious and stigmatized of illnesses. In Gail Griffith, depressed teens have found themselves a formidable advocate, and in the evocative and fiercely compelling narrative of Will's Choice, we all discover the promise of a second chance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There has been much controversy recently about whether antidepressants cause children and teens to become suicidal; this is the saga of one mother's nightmare-one that still leaves her believing antidepressants have a role to play in treating depression. Four years ago, Griffith's 17-year-old son, Will, attempted suicide by overdosing on the antidepressant Remeron. Will had previously been treated for depression, but had never been suicidal. Griffith describes the effect of the suicide attempt on herself, her husband (Will's stepfather) and Will's girlfriend, Megan, who was addicted to cutting herself. The author is painfully honest about her own battle with depression at age 40, and excerpts from Will's and Megan's diaries are heartrending. Although this is but a single case and so sheds little light on the relative benefits and dangers of antidepressant use, parents will find it instructive in how to recognize and respond to a child's depression. The book is also a plea to society to recognize that depression is a serious but treatable illness: after a stint in a residential treatment center that combined therapy and medication, Will emerged from his depression and now attends college. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 2001, Griffith's promising yet unsettled son, Will, became one of the approximately 2000 American teens who attempt suicide every day. The author, an activist in international humanitarian and arts causes who has also served on an FDA advisory committee, explores the causes of Will's underlying depression and reveals his relationship with a sketchily described girlfriend (Megan) who indulged in various forms of self-harm. Once stabilized, Will was enrolled in a therapeutic school, where he apparently thrived despite initial trepidation. Griffith's stirring prose is supplemented by Megan's and Will's own reflections on their trauma; statistics and research on teen suicide and depression are integrated into the text along with useful and possibly life-saving advice for parents. The author also discusses the conundrum of treatment for adolescent depression, highlighting its high cost and current controversies about the risks of medicating children. Above all, this is a powerful personal story about a young man who finds a way to embrace life again. Highly recommended for public libraries and consumer mental health collections.-Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, Evansville, IN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In this beautifully written and gripping account, readers learn a great deal about adolescent depression. On March 11, 2001, Griffith discovered that life had become so unbearable for her 17-year-old son that he took an overdose of antidepressants in a failed suicide attempt. Denial about what Will tried to do became determination to help him to recover and to control the emotions that led him to that moment. Griffith talks about the warning signs of a suicidal teen, the controversy concerning teens and the use of antidepressants, and the potential difficulties of identifying the right treatment program. Throughout the book, she is honest about her feelings of failure and of feeling lost. In 1991, she was diagnosed with major depression and realized that she had been fighting a mood disorder all of her adult life. The inclusion of segments of Will's journal and those of his girlfriend, who suffered similarly, helps to keep their voices in the forefront. This account has much to offer adults who may encounter a depressed teenager or teens themselves, including a list of organizational resources and a list of suggested reading and references.-Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
First-timer Griffith provides an intimate account of adolescent depression. In 2001, Griffith's son Will, 17, tried to kill himself by overdosing on his antidepressants. The first chapter, recounting Griffith's finding her near-comatose son in bed and rushing him to the hospital, is gripping, grueling and entrancing. As Griffith recounts his recovery, she makes elegant detours to consider her divorce and remarriage, the frankly marvelous co-parenting she and her ex worked out, and her own struggle with clinical depression. Decorating her account are letters between Will and his parents, snippets of doctors' reports, excerpts from Will's journal and, most rewardingly, letters and diary pages by Will's girlfriend, who herself wrestled with depression (she was a self-mutilating "cutter" during the months she and Will dated) and who is an emerging writer in her own right. But this isn't mere memoir. It's also reportage and social criticism, with a little self-help thrown in about how to recognize depression in a teenager; the pros and cons of SSRIs; and suppositions about why so many kids today are depressed. Griffith also exposes the inexcusable (if not wholly surprising) flaws and fault-lines in the mental health care world. Though that world is staffed by many devoted and compassionate doctors-you'll meet some in these pages-it is ill-prepared, in the main, to handle depression among adolescents. The FDA remains fuzzy about the effects of antidepressants on teenagers; inpatient treatment centers for juvenile patients are extremely expensive to operate and are consequently closing their doors; and, if Griffith's experience is representative, the insurance industry isn't exactly sweet onsuicidal teenagers. All this is laced with shocking statistics (each day, 2,000 young people between 13 and 18 attempt suicide). But the text never becomes morose, thanks in part to Griffith's light hand as a word-smither and her often winsome turns of phrase ("Girls were drawn to him like ants to a glazed donut"). A knowledgeable guide's revelatory report on a disturbing phenomenon.
Andrew Solomon
“This is a book about the struggle to supplement love with wisdom in the face of great pain.”
Judith Guest
“Ground-breaking...If this book serves as a wake-up call, it is truly one that could save lives.
Paul Raeburn
“Perceptive and instructive...a valuable document in the fight for better health care for our mentally ill children.”
Emmylou Harris
“A courageous and unflinching chronicle .... A beautifully written handbook of help and hope.”
Washingtonian Magazine
“A comfort and resource for people of any age struggling out of that pitch-dark place of the soul.”
Washington Post Book World
“Powerful prose...Griffith educates and empathizes. With the story of Will’s choice—life—she gives hope to families in crisis.”
Albuquerque Journal
“A heartbreaking and hopeful account that highlights a public health crisis in dire need of attention.”
Psychiatric News
“A look inside the minds of a patient and his family, and...an excellent teaching tool for clinicians.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060598655
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/03/2005
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.09(d)

What People are saying about this

Paul Raeburn
“Perceptive and instructive...a valuable document in the fight for better health care for our mentally ill children.”
Andrew Solomon
“This is a book about the struggle to supplement love with wisdom in the face of great pain.”
Emmylou Harris
“A courageous and unflinching chronicle .... A beautifully written handbook of help and hope.”
Judith Guest
“Ground-breaking...If this book serves as a wake-up call, it is truly one that could save lives.

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