4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
While medicine and science have led to improved treatments of all sorts of diseases over the years, depression and suicide have steadily increased since at least 2006. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with over 44,000 people dying every year from suicide. For every suicide that results in death there are 25 attempts, and at least one million people intentionally self-harm every year. All of this data is from the US alone!
A Beautiful Here by Linda Phillips speaks of her son Nuçi's suicide, but it's also so much more than that. Linda discusses her own childhood with an abusive mother, finding the love of her life, raising her two wonderful kids and the events leading up to 22-year-old Nuçi's suicide on Thanksgiving Day, 1996. She also discusses the issues that people who face depression face, the way mental illness is looked at in our country by other people and by the medical world, and the reality of the cycle of abuse from unloving parenting. But the book isn't entirely negative - in fact, A Beautiful Here has a positive name for a reason. The majority of the book is genuine, heartfelt and even uplifting. While the pain of the loss of Nuçi to a horrific disease won't ever entirely go away, Linda found a way to honor her son by creating a nonprofit organization that gives musicians a place to be comfortable and free to express themselves while also making it easier and more affordable for them to get the help they need when they need it. About half of the book is full of Linda's journey to make Nuçi's Space (the nonprofit) a reality and all of the good they managed to do merely by being there to talk to and facilitate affordable treatments with great therapists.
Throughout the book I was amazed at how awful depression was looked at by the medical world and even other people, but when I really stopped and thought about it I realized I've seen it myself. Men may not be as expected to be emotionless tough guys as when I was a kid, but there's always been a shame built into people who aren't happy and who have any sort of mental illness. As Linda points out, the word "mental" is even used as a negative term in all sorts of situations. The author herself even faced some of this when she was told or heard from others who lost a child to suicide that they've had enough time to grieve and should just move on, even as little as a month later!
I chose to review A Beautiful Here because it was so incredibly well reviewed on Amazon. Out of 52 reviews only one of them wasn't a 5-star review and it was because it was a gift for someone who wouldn't read it since the topic hit too close to home. I can see the reason people loved it so much - it's not just a great look at the life of Nuçi himself who battled depression for so long and eventually took his life. It's also not just insight into a mother who lost her son, wondering what she could have done better or whether she just did [whatever thing] she could've saved him. What makes the book so great is that Linda shines a light on such a dark topic, she invites the reader into the world of depression and then shows all of these wonderful ways anyone - even you! - can help someone who's depressed. Her writing is also very emotional, and anyone with any sort of empathy can deeply feel the words she wrote.
I learned a lot while reading A Beautiful Here. Linda snuck in all sorts of facts and statistics, and she did it while also presenting some absurd (but far too true) stories of things either her family faced or people she knew faced. For example, only two weeks into college Nuçi self-harmed and reached out for help. When he did, not only was he not given help, he had the police called on him, he was handcuffed and taken forcibly to a hospital and he was even expelled! Before that, after his first suicide attempt he was brought to a private psychiatric hospital. He was there for 8 weeks and made some real headway, but even with insurance it cost them well over $100,000 out of pocket! While he was there, Linda says she saw all sorts of people who barely received any kind of help being kicked out as insurance barely helped at all and people couldn't afford such an expensive place. Then there are the stories of people calling the suicide helpline and being put on hold so long they'd hang up, or the parents who lost a kid to suicide by hanging who received a card from their "dear friends" that read "Hang in there." In a dark fictional comedy these might be funny moments, but when it's the reality of depression it's just terrible!
For anyone interested in mental illness, for those who know someone with depression, for someone who faces depression and wants to know that they're not alone and especially for parents of a child who suffers from depression or who have lost a child to suicide I can't recommend A Beautiful Here enough. My official rating is 4 out of 4 stars, and the closest I found to anything negative about it was that I found a whopping two grammatical errors out of the 110+ page book.
A Beautiful Here
View: on Bookshelves
Like CataclysmicKnight's review? Post a comment saying so!