Griffith, Gail 1950-
GRIFFITH, Gail 1950-
PERSONAL: Born 1950; married (second husband); children: (first marriage) Will, Max; (stepchildren) Jane Brady, John Brady. Education: University of California, B.A.; Georgetown University, master's degree.
ADDRESSES: Home—Washington, DC. Agent—Gail Ross, Gail Ross Literary Agency, 1666 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC, 20009.
CAREER: Fund-raising consultant, advocate, and writer. Previously worked as a coordinator, fundraiser, and advocate for art causes and international humanitarian programs, including Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation' International Campaign to ban land mines. Patient representative to Food and Drug Administration's scientific advisory committeem 2004.
MEMBER: National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Mental Health Association, Washington Independent Writers.
Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery (memoir), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Editorial board member, Preventing Suicide magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Gail Griffith was a working mother when her seventeen-year-old son Will attempted suicide by overdosing on his antidepressant medication. In her book Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery, Griffith details the suicide attempt and the effect it had on her family and on Will's girlfriend, Megan, who also suffered from depression and practiced self-mutilation in the form of cutting herself. The author also describes her son's recovery, including his stay at a psychiatric institute, and her own battle with depression. To highlight her son's state of mind at the time, Griffith includes excerpts from the journals and e-mails of both Will and Megan. In an interview moderated by William O'Sullivan Online Washingtonian, Griffith explained her reasons for writing the memoir: "It's a plea for understanding about this all too common illness. I want to fight off the stigmatization mental illness carries; indeed, it's a warning to parents who might not be able to distinguish between 'normal' teenage angst and real depression. Moreover, I really want the public to aggressively tackle all that ails the mental health care system." In addition to telling her personal story, Griffith delves into the debate about the relationship between antidepressant medication and teenage suicide.
In a review of Will's Choice for the Online Washingtonian, O'Sullivan noted that "the book has the immediacy and rawness of a diary—though the prose is far more polished." As O'Sullivan went on to observe, Will's "story is a strong call for vigilance among parents … as well as a comfort and resource for people of any age struggling out of that pitch-dark place of the soul." Lon Woodbury, writing for Struggling Teens.com, commented: "This book can be valuable for any parent of a teen. Through one mother's experience, it provides a roadmap of what a family can go through when the bottom drops out of their child's life." A Kirkus Reviews contributor pointed out that the "text never becomes morose, thanks in part to Griffith's light hand as a word-smither and her often winsome turns of phrase." Antoinette Brinkman stated in Library Journal that, "above all, this is a powerful personal story about a young man who finds a way to embrace life again."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Griffith, Gail, Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery (memoir), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery, p. 1117.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 11, 2005, Pam Lilley, review of Will's Choice.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Will's Choice, p. 211.
Library Journal, April 15, 2005, Antoinette Brinkman, review of Will's Choice, p. 106.
Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2005, review of Will's Choice, p. 45.
School Library Journal, August, 2005, review of Will's Choice.
Washington Post, May 29, 2005, Deesha Philyaw, review of Will's Choice.
Gail Griffith Home Page, http://www.willschoice.net (June 27, 2005).
Online Washingtonian, http://www.washingtonian.com/ (June 27, 2005), William O'Sullivan, review of Will's Choice and online interview with Griffith.
Struggling Teens.com, http://www.strugglingteens.com/ (March 1, 2005), Lon Woodbury, review of Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery.