Monday, October 11, 2010

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is structured similarily to The Poisonwood Bible where each chapter is told by different perspectives. The main characters in the story are Martin, Maureen, JJ, and Jess. The story begins in England on New Years Eve. None of the characters know eachother at first, but they all end up meeting eachother due to the one thing they have in common; they're all looking to commit suicide. On Topper's House, the common suicide destination, the four meet and decide to temporarily delay their suicidal attempts to look for Jess's ex-boyfriend. Later in the night, they decide to keep delaying their suicides in hopes to save eachother by finding their qualities worth living for. They all try and support one another even though they are of various ages and even after spending much time together, they don't see eachother as friends. With Jess being the youngest at age 18, she seems to be the one with the less serious reasons for her suicidal thoughts; therefore, she is the one who tries the hardest to fix everyone's problems. "Jess clapped her hands together and stepped into the center of the room. 'I read about this on the Internet...It's called an intervention. They do it all the time in America" (268). She is the one who administers this to try to help everyone. The four characters become eachother's support system until they decide their own fate.

Discussion:
1) Martin, Maureen, JJ, and Jess form a sort of "support group" to help them with their suicidal thoughts, though they rarely see one another. Do you think that if someone was completely serious about suicide that a type of support group would stop him/her?

8 comments:

Heather M. 13-14 said...

Yes, I do believe that if someone seriously contemplated committing suicide that a support group could help stop them. By attending or being in a support group, the person wanting to committ suicide can see that they are not alone and that others are going through the same things that they are. By working together, they can discuss and talk about the reasons that are making them think suicidal thoughts and figure out a way to overcome them, just as the characters in the book did. Hopefully through these support groups, they can begin to realize how many people would be effected by their loss. Sometimes all it takes to change something you think about yourself is just an opinion from another person, especially a person who can relate to you.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

I agree with everything you have said, but i also do wonder whether or not it could truly help a suicidal person. If someone is completely lost and alone and feels as if that is their only way out, they may do it regardless of who tries and helps them. This actually occurs in the book when the group returns to Toppers House. JJ tries to stop a man from jumping, but sadly, he does. I would like to believe that some sort of support system could help anyone through a time like this because a person's life is something fragile that can never be replaced.

Sydney C.13-14 said...

I agree with Heather in the way that the support group in the book has the potential to save lives, because the members can all relate to one another and the feelings and events they are going through. Support groups seem much more helpful than interventions by people who don't understand the viewpoints of the suicidal person. These interventions tend to be one sided,and can sometimes make a person feel even more isolated and different.I have not read this book, but by your description I do find myself skeptical when you explain that the members do not consider each other friends and do not meet often. I think a regular scheduled meeting time would help fill the lives or pose as a distraction from a difficult life for those involved with suicidal thoughts.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

I believe that a support group definitely has the potential to help people get through to one another, but at the same time, putting a bunch of suicidal people together to try to get them to not commit suicide does not seem like the smartest idea. I'm not saying that it wouldn't help or work, but everyone is different. What helps one person may not help another person at all. And I won't tell you whether or not the four people do end up dying, but I didn't like the fact that they didn't always meet. No, they didn't consider themselves friends, but there were age gaps and many personality gaps. They are different and as I said before, what helps one person may not help another, just like in the book. I don't know whether or not a support group would stop someone from committing suicide if they were serious about it, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to try. In fact, I'm not sure anything would hurt to try to stop a suicidal person.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

I have to agree with Courtney on this one. Suicide is a very serious issue, a support group may be helpful to those not very serious about suicide but I am not in the mind of a truly suicidal human being. I believe that some people can be pushed to the point of no return and that all efforts, no matter how valid cannot save some people. Those who have contemplated and considered suicide may be able to be talked out of it. Those who have already made up their minds though are another story. I think that some people do not want to be saved and will not let anyone do so.

David G. 13-14 said...

I completely agree that putting a bunch of people who are suicidal together doesn't seem like a good idea. I'm sure there is potential that they could easily relate to each other and therefore impact each others' decisions and viewpoints but I can't see this being helpful 99 times out of 100. I imagine that this type of support would only make things worse. Overall, I don't think support groups would help people that are completely set on committing suicide. Some people just see things one way and can't have their minds changed, leaving it pointless for a support group to try to change their mind.

Hayley D 11/12 said...

I agree with all of the points that have been brought up so far. I would think that a support group could in fact, change someone's mind. Like Heather said, just one person's opinion could change that person's entire view point on the subject. I'm not sure whether or not all four members willingly attended these gatherings to support each other but if they did, I feel that just that small step of attending the meetings, is a step in the right direction. No matter how serious the person feels about committing suicide, every single human being wants to know that someone else cares. And if a support group is what it takes to show people that no matter what, there will always be someone willing to help, lives could most definitely be saved.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

I think that no matter what, suicide is hard to deal with and a person who has not gone through anything dealing with it does not know exactly what works to help stop it. I think that as long as everyone who knows something wrong is going on tries to stop it and shows that they love and care for the troubled person, then that is all they truly can do. Something is always better than nothing.