Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Suicide Prevention Month: Sylvia Plath and Faith Owen

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Depression is generally the cause of suicide. If you are depressed, please get help. Talk to a health care professional, a friend, a family member, the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

I have lost people I love to suicide. I have been on the ledge that leads to suicide in my own life. Depression lies. Life can and does get better, and I am thankful to still be here enjoying my grandchildren, the sunshine, and all that life brings.

I have the work of two authors to share with you today.

The first is Sylvia Plath who lived from 1932 to 1963. She took her life at the age of thirty. Her novel The Bell Jar was published 1963 only a month before she ended her life. This fictional story is semi-autobiographical and tells the story of a young woman dealing with debilitating depression. In Sylvia's time, treatment for depression was still in the dark ages. Treatment for depression and mental illnesses has improved. We still have a long way to go for society to accept these illness and to stop telling those of us who suffer with them to "Snap out of it" or "Just appreciate what you have" or "Be happy."

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We need insurance companies to treat mental illness as a real illness and provide better coverage for it.

Sylvia Plath wrote a collection of poems during the months before she took her life in a collection called: Ariel. The reader can feel her despair in this collection. This is not an uplifting collection of poetry, but it is well written and deep.

The next author I want to tell you about is one who is very dear to me. She is my own sweet niece:, Faith Owen. She started writing her poetry as a young teen, and self published a book of poems in 2013 called Finding Faith. Her poems tell the story of childhood, of dealing with depression and the fight to not let it take over her life, and how it is a continual struggle for many.  In her poems, you see hope, faith, despair, and healing. The poems were written from 2009 to 2013.

In her poem "Weird", she writes:
"I am the kind of blue that people run from
thunder cloud angry grey
not the summer sky
sleep under the clouds
I love you
but the scarred electricity
the stinging painful rain
the kind of blue that makes one head for cover" (22). She is a wordsmith.

In her poem "Friendship" she details how we outgrow friendships, and I love the end of this poem:
"I didn't grow as fast
And when our friendship was stale
Like an old piece of bread
To you
It was fresh as peach
To me
We grew at different speeds
But now I realize
We grew out of each other
And our friendship
is too small
To fit us anymore" (25 - 26).

In her acknowledgement section she writes:
"For those who are hurting, sad, or grieving, you can do it. Life's a mess but there's a reason to it. There are people willing to help if you only look for them. I have faith in you. Here's an important thing to think about, poetry is like a mirror not a brick wall. When you read it, you should see yourself in it. I hope you do that with my poetry. It has the scent of my story in it, but there's no reason why you shouldn't find colors of your own within my words" (100).

She shares more of her poetry on her blog at: Faith's blog

She is wise beyond her years. It took tenacity for her to fight the dragon of depression and come out the other side, a winner, an author.  Her story continues, and she will fight the dragon from time to time. I hope she knows that she is loved and that her many gifts including her gift of words is appreciated.


  1. Cathy you are amazing! I have read Faith's book and loved it. I now want to read Sylvia Plath, you have inspired me to read both of her books and Faith's again.

    1. Jill,
      The Plath books are well written, but they are very sad. Just keep that in mind when you read them.