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Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery Paperback – May 2, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060598662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598662
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark A. Vermilion on May 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Griffith's well-written account of her son Will's suicide attempt and the effects it has had on Will, his family and friends is heart-squeezing in and of itself. Yet Griffith not only tells her own family's story, but through research gives us a troubling description of our entire society's failure to understand and deal with the growing phenomenon of teenage depression and suicide.

How did Will--a seemingly happy child--so quickly fall into depression and then attempt to stop his pain by death? What brings any teen, happy or not, to such a joyless existence that they think death is the answer?

Griffith offers some explanations based on her investigations, including both societal (too early media-driven sexual awakenings, lack of parental involvement in their children's lives, etc.) and natural (chemical imbalances, heredity), but the real contribution in the book is perhaps the call to all parents to become better informed about teen depression while trusting their instincts as parents to guard, guide, and love their kids.

She also speaks to needed changes in attitudes and policies regarding mental illness from the general public, government agencies, health care professionals, and health insurers.

Despite all of Will's and his family's pain depicted in this book, there is redemption. Will has recovered and is doing well. And his mother has given all of us a clearer path to better understand and help troubled teens.

And the book is not a total downer--there are light moments of dark humor by both Will and his mom. There is no need for a caution label on the cover. It is ultimately a very good read.
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Format: Hardcover
Gail Griffith's account of her son's illness comes across as painfully honest. Her inclusion of her son's and Megan's writings was very helpful for those of us who seek to understand the crippling illness called clinical depression. If you have ever had to deal with a close relative who is suffering from clinical depression, this account clearly lays out the anguish being experienced by the sufferer and also by the immediate family dealing with this person. Because the author deals with many of the difficulties and controversies (medical, pharmacological, and financial) encountered in trying to find a viable treatment program, much helpful information is offered. The book is also very informative about the present state-of-the art in dealing with clinical depression.

Above all, I found this book to be a fascinating, well-written and gripping account that was very much worth reading. Thank you, Gail.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this book was one of the most affecting entertainment experiences I have ever had. I venture to say that not since the 12-hour 1973 TV documentary, 'An American Family', has there been -- in print or on video -- as fully realized a portrait of a family in crisis as is portrayed in this astonishing work. The story begins with the highest possible drama in recounting the near-fatal suicide attempt of an exceptionally bright, seemingly well-adjusted 17-year-old boy in the bedroom of the upper middle class D.C. home he shared with two loving and dedicated parents. In fact, at the time of his attempt, Will was actually being raised by four remarkable parents, as both his mother (author Gail Griffith with whom he was living when he overdosed on anti-depressant drugs intending to die) and his father (with whom he was also extremely close) had each acquired a second spouse; not only had the respective step-parents embraced Will as if he were their natural child, but the four adults had achieved unusual harmony amongst themselves, beautifully integrating their extended families. No post-divorce rancor or other trauma, no major drug or alcohol problems, few dark clouds of any kind appeared to have unleashed the violent storm that nearly destroyed a promising young man. Partial answers to the riddle of why Will crashed are suggested by Griffith's history of her own lengthy depression and hospitalization, as well as her painfully detailed portrait of Will's girlfriend, Megan, who was also suffering from severe depression as well as an addiction to cutting her skin with razor blades and knives.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Gail Griffith writes very well and this is indeed a gripping story. Lots of compassion is demonstrated for suicidal and depressed teens. Nevertheless the book is very one-sided and misguided in its presentation of the benefits of antidepressant therapy. This is particularly surprising in light of the fact Will so clearly demonstrates adverse side effects, even the beginning of serotonin syndrome, well before his suicide attempt. This is not surprising in light of the enormous doses of three different drugs that he had only been taking for a relatively short time - enormous for someone only 17 years of age, 6 feet tall and reputedly less than 150 pounds, very thin for that height. He was nauseous, vomiting and had significant memory loss. In addition his suicide notes are examples of a dissociative state, in which one feels one is watching from outside oneself with no real sense of the consequences of one's actions, that has been reported repeatedly by survivors of antidepressant harm. The fact that his own doctor and the doctors who endorse the book do not recognize this is a sorry testimony to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry over the psychiatric profession. The other endorsements come ironically from Andrew Solomon and Paul Raeburn who have themselves inadvertently described adverse events dramatically in their own writing. I hope readers will examine more critically the differences between underlying depression and the adverse effects of mind altering drugs.
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