Suicide Notes

Suicide Notes

by Michael Thomas Ford


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An unforgettable coming of age novel for fans of 13 Reasons Why, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital—specifically, in the psychiatric ward. Despite the bandages on his wrists, he’s positive this is all some huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal; not like the other kids in the hospital with him.

But over the course of the next forty-five days, Jeff begins to understand why he ended up here—and realizes he has more in common with the other kids than he thought.

“With a sprinkling of dark humor and a full measure of humanness, Suicide Notes is quirky, surprising, and a riveting read.” —Ellen Hopkins, author of The You I’ve Never Known and Love Lies Beneath

“Like the very best teen novels, Suicide Notes is both classic and edgy, timeless and provocative.” —Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club

“Makes a powerful emotional impact.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Jeff’s wit and self-discovery are refreshing, poignant, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.” —School Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062845511
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/12/2019
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,382
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Michael Thomas Ford is the author of the teen novels Suicide Notes and Love & Other Curses. His numerous other works for both adults and teens include some of the earliest books about the HIV/AIDS crisis and several books about the LGBTQ community. His novel Lily was a Tiptree Award long list title and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. He also authors a series of novellas starring some of the most popular contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race, including Sharon Needles, Manila Luzon, and Jinkx Monsoon. He has a lot of tattoos and dogs and a beard.

Read an Excerpt

Suicide Notes

Chapter One

Day 01

I read somewhere that when astronauts come back to Earth after floating around in space they get sick to their stomachs because the air here smells like rotting meat to them. The rest of us don't notice the stink because we breathe it every day and to us it smells normal, but really the air is filled with all kinds of pollutants and chemicals and junk that we put into it. Then we spray other crap around to try and make it smell better, like the whole planet is someone's old car and we've hung this big pine-scented air freshener from the rearview mirror.

I feel like those astronauts right now. For a while I was floating around in space breathing crystal-pure oxygen and talking to the Man in the Moon. Then suddenly everything changed and I was falling through the stars. I used to wonder what it would be like to be a meteor. Now I know. You fall and fall and fall, and then you're surrounded by clouds and your whole body tingles as it starts to burn up from the entry into the atmosphere. But you're falling so fast that it burns only for a second, and then the ocean comes rushing up at you and you laugh and laugh, until the water closes over your head and you're sinking. Then you know you're safe—you've survived the fall—and as you come back to the surface you blow millions of bubbles into the blue-green water.

Only then your head breaks through the waves and you suck in great breaths of stinking air and you want to die, like babies when they come out of their mothers and find out that they should have stayed inside where they were safe. That's where I am now, floating in the ocean like apiece of space junk and trying not to throw up every time I breathe.

I'm not really in the ocean, though. I'm in the hospital. They say they brought me here last night, but I was totally out of it and don't remember anything. Actually, what I heard someone say was that I was kind of dead. Pretty close to dead, anyway.

I really do think I was flying around in space, though. At least for a little while. I remember thinking that I'd finally find out whether anyone lives on Mars or not. Then it was like someone grabbed me by the foot and yanked me down, back toward Earth. I remember screaming that I didn't want to go, but since you can't make noise in space, my voice was just kind of eaten up.

Now that I know where I am, I'm not so sure I wouldn't be better off just being dead.

And maybe I am dead. I mean, it does kind of feel like Hell around here. I'm in this room with people checking in on me every five seconds. And by people I mean nurses, and in particular Nurse Goody. Can you believe that? Her name is actually Nurse Goody. And she is, too. Good, I mean. She's always smiling and asking me if she can get me anything. It's really annoying, because all I want is to be left alone, and that's the last thing they seem to do here. So many people run in and out of this room, I feel like a tourist attraction. I bet Nurse Goody is standing outside the door selling tickets, like those guys at carnivals who try to get people to pay to see the freak show. Barkers, I think they're called. That's what Nurse Goody is, a barker. She stands outside my door and barks.

But it's not like there's anything interesting in here. No television. No roommate (which actually, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing). Not even any magazines or books. Just me in bed looking out the window, which is the kind with wire running through the glass so you can't break it and jump out. The paint around the windows is all chipped, like maybe someone who was in here before me tried to break the window, then decided to claw their way out instead.

Now that I look at it, the whole room is kind of old-looking. The walls are this dirty white color, and there are some cracks in the plaster, and a weird brown spot on the ceiling that looks like a face. The Devil's face, maybe. Because, like I said, I think I might be in Hell. It would make sense that he would be watching me. Him and Nurse Goody are watching me. Good and Evil.

That's funny. Good and Evil. Maybe I'm not in Hell. Maybe I'm in that in-between place. What do they call it? Limbo. Where all the dead people go who don't have a "go directly to Heaven or Hell" card. Dead babies go there, too, I think. People no one knows what to do with, and dead babies. My kind of people.

Maybe I'm in Limbo, and the Devil and Goody are fighting over me. Or waiting for me to make up my mind where I want to go. What would I pick, Heaven or Hell? That's a good question. Seriously, I think I would pick Hell. The people there would probably be more interesting.

Come to think of it, it really is hot as Hell in here. There's a radiator under the window, the big old metal kind that shakes whenever water goes through it. I guess it's been working overtime. I swear, this place must be eleventy years old. It's like any minute now the whole building is going to fall apart. At least then I wouldn't be here.

It's raining, and the only thing I can see out the window is part of a forest. Since it's winter, though, it looks less like a forest and more like a bunch of skeletons holding their hands up to the sky. The rain is running down the glass, making it look like the skeletons are under water. Drowning. Although if they're skeletons, wouldn't they already be dead? So maybe they're just swimming. Anyway, the skeleton trees are kind of freaking me out. It's looking more and more like this really is Hell. Maybe I should tell Goody she's in the wrong place.

Suicide Notes. Copyright © by Michael Ford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Scott Heim

“This book is equal parts hilarious, bittersweet, and strange. You will love every page of it.”

Brent Hartinger

“Like the very best teen novels, Suicide Notes is both classic and edgy, timeless and provocative.”

Customer Reviews

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Suicide Notes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 229 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jeff is fifteen years old, from a good family, and he's just woken up in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. Over the next month and a half he will take part in group therapy, individual counseling, and even those excruciating sessions with his family. And through all of this, everyone will realize that he didn't really mean to kill himself. Right? It was just a misunderstanding. His group therapy sessions aren't his favorite; he's only going so that everyone can see how sane he really is. There are four of "them" in his group: Alice, who lit her mom's boyfriend on fire; Juliet, who seems to have no direct relationship with reality; Sadie, who tried to drown herself; and Bone, who primarily just wants the world to know that he doesn't know Juliet and is not her boyfriend. Jeff tries to make it clear that he is only there because of a misunderstanding. But, it's hard to misunderstand the bandages on his wrists. Over the next 45 days, Jeff's story will unfold and new pages will be added. Was it really a girl that caused this whole "misunderstanding?" Allie has been his best friend, but was she more than that? Was he jealous of her new boyfriend or did she reject his advances? And now he has new friendships forming while he's in the hospital, and each of those will test his ability to deal with new pressures and unexpected situations. And may lead him closer to confronting the events that led up to his hospitalization.
Meggie33 More than 1 year ago
Good book with a really great message. It's a quick and easy read (Only 180something pages). I would recommend this book to kids in high school. When I first started reading it, I wasn't too sympathetic to Jeff, the main charted, because he is such a smartass. But as I continued to read, I really got attached to him and enjoyed watching his story unfold. It really makes you think about the issues other people might be going through in their lives. Things aren't always as bad as they seem.
kassie dee More than 1 year ago
this is honesly one of the best books i have ever read! I highly recomment this book... but mostly to teenagers. This book has a lot of meaning!
ZackaryStorm More than 1 year ago
I never review books. Ever. And I really felt compelled to review this one. The book is absolutely amazing. As a psych patient in remission, this story really hits near spot on with how my feelings were. And, honestly I really feel like a Jeff. This book starts a little slow, but keep riding! I couldn't put it down from Day 18 on... This book seems to be geared toward a MATURE TEEN AUDIENCE. There is some sexual references and drug references that I would keep away from anyone under 14 I guess? This story truly moved me to the point where I literally felt Jeff's pain psychosomatically to the point where I was almost scared! All in all, this is a great read for anyone interested in the subject matter (Psych). Would recommend 100% every time!!
Madi Parker More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book alot! and i could totally relate. i recomend it to anyome who loves humor. this book made me laugh threw out the book. but i wish it was longer!!!!!
hawkcloud3 More than 1 year ago
i got this book a few weeks ago, with some other books, and it was the last out of the 3 i decided to read. i wish i hadnt. this book is realistic and great, i couldnt put it down. even though jeff is in a psychiatric ward, many of us will find that we are alike him and some of the other kids in the books. it was very relate-able for me. not the twist at the end, but some other things. i wouldnt recommend it for someone under the age of at least 14. there are some, um, parts of the book kind of mature. but none the less, great book. i absolutely would read this.
Tori Lee More than 1 year ago
Jeff finds himself in a psychiatric hospital and in denial. He says his suicide attempt is no big deal. Stupid. But as he continues his 45 day program he starts to see that what he feels is REAL and okay. He starts to realize that these 'nutjobs' couod be some of the most normal people he'd ever met. The book starts off almost OFFENSIVE but ends in a way that is refreshing and amazing. Give it a try. I recomend it.
NBGIRL2012 More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh all the way through however it really sends a message as well. There is also a nice twist that I never saw coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you think about comiting suicide its probley becase you hate your life and think the world would be better without you i think about doing it all the time because i think the world dosent need me becase it doesnt if you are thinking about comiting suicide first stop and think how would this effect people it stops me everytime and i am still young just everyone remember have hope Hold On Pain Ends hope Just stop and think how it would have an effect on people around you trust me it will effect them there are 7 billion people in this world and you were made to change one if there lives
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so, so incredibly sorry. I know what its likw to lose one of ur bffs. It hurts a ton. It feels like the pain will never go away. You often feel likw its ur fault. If only i had been there, if only i had known, if only i had helped. Its not ur fault. People do suicide for many difderent reason. It is wrong to blame urself. Be hapoy for those you lost. They are now in a better place, and someday, you will meet them again, and spend eternity in happiness with the. I will pray for you all. <br> Sincerely, <br> AGGP
FragileHeartbeat More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be really funny. The names Jeff came up with are hilarious. If anybody is looking for a laugh, I recommend this book! 
yum More than 1 year ago
Suicide Notes describes a fifteen year old named Jeff who tried to commit suicide and was placed in the psych ward in a hospital. It accounts his time there learning about himself through a comical persona. Jeff is a main character that any reader can relate to, and although his personal problems are serious, he tries to keep putting his thoughts off as being normal. The other characters in the novel each hold their own very interesting personalities, and Jeff tells about his relationships with each of them. He tries to tell his shrink that theres nothing wrong with him, and constantly cracks jokes to make himself feel better about his surroundings. Eventually, Jeff understands what drove him to try to commit suicide, and the novel takes an interesting twist. A fun and exciting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i just finished reading this book. Its amazing. It had the biggest twist at the end... :) the book was simply great. As a teen, I loved it. it was so funny. I finished the book in 1 day!! I couldnt put it down i dont think you would want to either. I didn't want it to end. I started reading slower and drinking the words. I lend it to my friends and they loved it! the book is great and i definitly recommend getting it.
gracie16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The novel, Suicide notes by Michael Thomas Ford describes how a young boy is afraid of being gay. In the beginning Jeff struggles with being confused of being in this mental hospital. Throughout the middle he slowly learns that the reason why he's in the mental hospital because he tried to kill himself. By the end he has learned that the reason why he was in this mental hospital for trying to suicde because he was gay. 295/295pages.
presto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jeff wakes to find himself in hospital, and subsequently learns that he is in the psychiatric ward and that he his signed in for a 45 day stint. He admits he tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrists, but is reluctant to admit why he attempted it, not to his doctor, Dr Katzrupus, not to the other four teenage patients in his unit, and least of all to himself. Of course he is convinced there is nothing wrong with him, he is in the "nuthouse" by mistake, and he will be going home as soon as every one realises their error.Jeff tells his own story, fifteen years old he has a way with words, a ready response and a smart-Alec sarcasm behind which he hides, yet he is a very likable and endearing youngster. He gives a day by day account of his time in hospital, of his daily sessions with his doctor and his interaction with is fellow young patients, and the weekly visits of his parents and young sister.Suicide notes is an eminently readable diary, thoroughly engaging and full of wit and humour. Jeff's sessions with Dr Katzrupus (for whom he has his own nick name) alone are a delight, his evasive answers and attempts at twisting things round, at getting the upper hand. Off course nothing will change for Jeff until he can admit to himself that he has a problem, but how long before he can, and how will he and his family deal with it if and when he does?His problem? - he is gay. A problem many teenagers no doubt have to face and come to terms with, in this entertaining story MTF provides a realistic, helpful and positive path to acceptance.
flannabanana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It feels a little weird to say that I felt a book about a 45-day program in a juvenile psychiatric unit was really funny. But it was¿in parts. This book, written in journal entries from day one of the program until the last day, focuses on Jeff¿s evaluation of why he tried to kill himself. His voice is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, only he doesn¿t call everyone phonies¿just whackjobs. Jeff introduces us to the other young adults in the unit, some of whom come and go during his stay. He also has to see a psychiatrist during his time in the program, the delightful Dr. Katzrupus. (or Cat Poop, as Jeff dubs him) At first, I felt like we weren¿t getting to know each supporting character well enough but isn¿t that the point? I mean, Jeff is in this program solely to figure out what his issues are. These are his journal entries we are reading. And it all felt real¿I felt anxious with him, sad for him, mortified with him, and so hopeful that maybe it would all work out. The relationship he had with his sister made me laugh the most, though.While this book definitely deals with a lot of morbid topics, the feel is decidedly optimistic for the most part. I enjoyed the fact that Jeff was very matter-of-fact about most things and the conversations he had with people didn¿t really tiptoe around the serious stuff. His doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Katzrupus was a highlight as well.I¿d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a male voice in the female-saturated YA world. Though I hope this wouldn¿t affect anyone¿s choice to read a book or not, there are some M/M sexual scenes. Just putting that out there. I¿ll definitely read more from this author.
clio11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's New Year's Day, and 15-year-old Jeff wakes up in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. He's positive he doesn't belong there, that his parents are overreacting like they do to everything. Sure, he tried to kill himself, but that doesn't mean everyone has to get all stressed out. He's not really crazy, not like the other kids in the ward. He just made a mistake, and as soon as he gets out everything will be fine. Right?Suicide Notes was a disappointment. The book feels as though Ford decided to write a "problem novel," and couldn't decide which "problem" to focus on. Jeff's reason for attempting suicide (he made a pass at his best friend's boyfriend and was rejected) was not presented in a believable way. Jeff himself is not a particularly intriguing character, and the cast of characters in the mental hospital were little more than stereotypes.The book's plot is generally predictable, as Jeff slowly grows to trust his psychiatrist and the others in the ward. Several semi-consensual sexual encounters between Jeff and Rankin, another patient, left me uneasy. One final encounter passed beyond "semi-consensual" into full blown sexual assault - Rankin climbs naked into Jeff's bed and ignores his repeated statements of "don't!" I was very disappointed that the assault wasn't treated as such - although Rankin is sent away, even Jeff's psychiatrist doesn't condemn his actions as sexual assault, merely describes them as inappropriate.For a better treatment of life in the psychiatric ward, I'd recommend Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story.
emcnellis16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sentenced to a psychiatric hospital for forty-five days, Jeff begins a journal of his experiences, encounters, and discoveries. Jeff is a typical teenager ¿ sarcastic, disrespectful, and belligerent. He doesn¿t believe he belongs in the ward, nevermind the scars on his wrists. When his doctor, whom Jeff has nicknamed Cat Poop, attempts to bring his problems to light, Jeff responds with typical off-color remarks.But as the days pass, and Jeff interacts with the other patients, he begins to see that even troubled teens deserve kindness and respect.Ultimately, Suicide Notes is a novel of self-discovery and tolerance. By the end of the book, Jeff is able to acknowledge and love himself ¿ as well as move toward healing the relationship with his parents.I found Suicide Notes to be a realistic look at the difficult questions all teenagers face ¿Who am I? What do I want? What makes me happy? How do I fit in?
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know what to say about this book, not really. I read it really, really quickly. Not because it was super short (it wasn't), but because once I started, I just couldn't stop. It was just that good. It's not really about suicide, it's more about growing up. But not in that teen angst, over dramatic woe is me kind of way. Suicide Notes is way more real than a lot of stuff I've read. But what makes it so good is that we get a skewed point of view because Jeff, our narrator is really unreliable. Not because he lies, but because he can't face the truth of what happened just yet. which means this book is, well, really amazing. That's about it. Highly, highly recommended.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On New Year's Day Jeff is taken to a psychiatric ward because he tries to kill himself. Jeff insists that he's not crazy - he doesn't see why everyone can't just get over it and leave him alone - but he's enrolled in a 45-day program at the hospital. He has to endure group therapy and sessions with Dr. Katzrupus (whom he nicknames Cat Poop). Jeff keeps insisting there's nothing wrong, but as his stay progresses and he gets to know some of the other kids on the ward Jeff just might start to figure out some stuff about himself. Jeff's irreverent sarcasm drew me in from the beginning and I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I was also intrigued by Jeff's suicide attempt - what caused him to try to take his own life? He was obviously hiding something and I wanted to know what. I'd hand this to teens who liked Julie Halpern's Get Well Soon (another funny take on psychiatric hospitals) or Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story (although the tone is different).
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: 2.5* of fiveAll the points are for the ending, which is entirely worth the long, tedious, acne-inducing slog to get there.Seriously...does the world NEED to hear about adolescence anymore? Is there something we missed, as adults, while going through that training ground for evil demons called "junior high" (that's middle school for the under-fifty set)? If so, is it something that we actually *need*? more. No no no. Poke me with a fork, I'm done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read!!! I loved Jeff he reminded me of myself as a teen although I wasn't gay I also thought it was everyone else with the problem and not me. Also I never laughed so hard or out loud while reading until this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Ford has written a wonderful book that you get pulled into.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Oh look a phone booth" The man stands in line A robot is in line with him "Wow. A real live robot. I've wanted to see one since i was 6" "Bite my shiny metal ass" "Doesn't look so shiny to me" "Shinier than yours meatbag" Now it is the man's turn in line "Crap i dont have any quarters" "Don't worry i can get us a twopher" The phone booth then says something 'Please choose method of death:slow and painful or quick and painless' "What" 'You chose slow and painful" " ooo good choice" They survived blah blah blah something happened yadda yadda yadda they save the planet then they all celebrate and eat soft tacos Dont do drugs kids
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an amazing book very serious but funny