Long Live The Suicide King, by Aaron Michael Ritchey

Long Live The Suicide King, © Aaron Michael Ritchey

Long Live The Suicide King, © Aaron Michael Ritchey

A book about suicide can be a touchy thing.

This brooding novel is about a teenager going through the throes of suicidal tendencies. It puts you in the head of 17-year old JD Dillenger, as he contemplates the taking of his own life. It puts you in the head of all the high school drama and angst…of all the misguided and overconfident certainty that only comes with adolescence…but, here you’re not quite sure if it is all just high school drama and angst or the real thing. You know…for a novel.

What isn’t so misguided in this conversation is the sense of despair and what’s-the-point that seems so prevalent in today’s society—and with good reason. Look at this Forever War we’re in. The state of the world…well, at least as the media portrays it. Then throw in all the usual teenage angst to boot: messed-up friends…lack of direction…lack of self-esteem…confusing religious ideas…parents that are never around and have their own issues. School. I can see why the youth of today (hell, anyone!) feel so out of control. So hopeless.

Suicidal.

Yeah, then throw some drug use into the mix.

That is the point of Aaron Michael Ritchey’s intense and darkly humorous novel. That there is a reason to live, and we each have to find it. We have to find the parts of life that make it worth living…but we can’t always do that alone. We have to find what it is that makes life beautiful to each of us, and sometimes we need a helping hand. That there are missteps along the way…and there are definite consequences to our actions, as Ritchey points out…but we can course-correct and still make it.

In the back matter of this novel, Aaron has suicide prevention information. Aaron himself also talks about his own brush with the suicidal, so he definitely knows whereof he speaks. I know Aaron—okay, just a little bit (you see, once you meet him, everyone wants to feel they intimately know “Aaron-Michael-Ritchey“)—but what I know about him is that he is an outgoing, fun and funny—sometimes overly caffeinated?—dude. He’s a great conversationalist and just a blast to hang around and bullshit with, so, you’d never know he had such a deep, dark problem earlier in his life…which is the thing about suicidal tendencies: you can’t always know just by looking at somebody. I worked with three people who ended up taking their own lives, and I never saw “this” in any of them.

Long Live The Suicide King gives a teenager’s perspective on a dark topic, and Aaron does it quite well..so much so that I felt I was back in high school. It shows that if you have teenagers—or anyone, for that matter—with behavior like JD’s, don’t dismiss it and think it minor. Don’t chalk it up to teenage drama and ignore it. Confront it immediately. Seek professional help.

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About fpdorchak

Paranormal fiction author.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Health, To Be Human, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Long Live The Suicide King, by Aaron Michael Ritchey

  1. Wendy Brydge says:

    I had a friend who committed suicide when we were in high school. At the time, everyone was oblivious that he was having any sort of issues, but I can look back now (hindsight is always 20/20, right?) and certain encounters with him make me say, “How did I not see that something was very wrong?” It’s so easy to just TALK to people — why don’t we do it more often? Way too much negativity in the world today. Too many people enjoy harassing others when they should be putting that energy into trying to build others up and help them feel better not worse.

    • fpdorchak says:

      I remember, as a kid, one day it just “hit” me funny how my kid-peers at the time called out to their friends in public, and called them derogatory names, and I thought, huh, and these are FRIENDS?! Why are the calling them “assholes” and the like if they’re FRIENDS? It just hit me. Perhaps it’s the not wanting to show anything other then “strength” in public?

      I know, this comment of yours goes way beyond my comment, here, but it reminded me of that. People can be cruel, from a very young age on up. Who knows why so many behave that way. And kids learn from the examples in their lives.The human brain doesn’t even MATURE until about the age of 25, so that explains a LOT of Stupid Human Behavior. I could also go down the metaphysical path that what comes around goes around, or that what one does in one life, especially evil acts, the perpetrators experience the opposite end of their actions in another life, or any of a myriad of other reasons. There are so many reasons for why something is or isn’t…but I hope with books like Aaron’s it might shed some light on the juvenile actions that need to stop…showing how such actions affect others, which really may not be as intended…maybe many just don’t know how to be supportive in public, open themselves up to help, because they don’t have good examples in their own lives, and they just “fall in with the crowd,” peer pressure, etc.

      In short, it’s a BIG topic. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

  2. Read it a while ago. And just yesterday (queue the Twilight Zone theme) I brought it back out because I want to quote some of his lines in a “Characters and Voice” class I’m teaching for the RWA. I’ve also quoted it in blog posts. There are some great doozies in there. Such a snarky teen… so believable. And yes, so sad that there had to be so many Aaron elements to it.

  3. My father tried a couple of times to commit suicide… failed (supposedly the hint they didn’t really mean to but were crying out for help). He lived with us for a while, but we ended up asking him to leave when he was sneak drinking (we asked him to put it on the counter rather than in the drawers in the bathrooms. He wouldn’t sober up or at least play by our house “rules” around our kids. Anyway. he disappeared for a while, all of us thinking the worst. He’d settled, but lost himself again in a binge, lived out of a car, ended up in a very compassionate Catholic residence where he stayed until he died of COPD – in reality his smoking and drinking from teenage years was his way of committing slow suicide and he just didn’t know how long it would take. 😦 I wish Aaron and Deb could have gotten this into the school systems all over the country and make some of these young people understand that they don’t stand alone in their pain, that there is hope.

    • fpdorchak says:

      Wow, thanks for sharing that, Karen, that had to have been unimaginably rough for you and your family. This is such a dark issue and so many more people seem to be committing suicide than I’ve ever heard of in the past, so anything that helps people better understand any and all of its symptoms and outcomes is a positive thing. This would be a great book to get into the school systems. And trying to filter out the failed-calls-for-help versus those who would actually go through with it is a tall order…but which must still be done. Don’t ignore or be dismissive of the signs. That’s not your call: if someone looks like they need help, your call is to bring it to a professional’s attention and show that person-in-need that there IS a better way…that there IS help…and they don’t have to go it alone.

  4. Paul says:

    A very important topic, no question. I’m glad you wrote this. I always try to tweet about this every September 10 for World Suicide Prevention Day, supplying a hotline number and encouraging people to reach out before they do something drastic.

    There’s so much pain out there, so many battles, and we seldom have any idea what someone else is going through. Look at Gart Williams in “A Stop at Willoughby”. If only we could reach them before they decide to end it all. Anyway, good post, Frank.

    • fpdorchak says:

      Thanks. I’ve never heard of so many suicides before…have been hearing about more and more over the past few years (many military and teen aged). That’s great of you to do that. Keep up that great effort, Paul.

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