Driving home from the funeral of a 15-year-old distant relative, Ann Arbor psychologist Dan Saferstein decided to write a book about teen depression.
“To go to a funeral of a high school kid blew me away – I was so touched and kind of pissed off,” he says. “This book title 100 Reasons to Live came into my head.”
His new young-adult release, 100 Reasons to Live: Adventures of a Depressed Duck, follows Dena, a young bird who has lost her mom and is suffering from depression as a result. She goes on a journey with her grandmother with the challenge of not returning home until thinking up 100 reasons to live – each covered in a brief chapter.
While she befriends a human teen named Sarah who also has depression, Dena’s story is central.
“People ask me, ‘Why write a book about a depressed duck instead of a teenager?'” Saferstein says. “Mainly, I think teens and younger people have an aversion to self-help books, and this book gets around that.”
In Washtenaw County alone, where he’s raised three children, now 25, 23 and 21, the teen suicide rate has grown – with 17 people ages 15-24 taking their lives in 2016, according to a recent MLive report.
Saferstein says his core message to kids is to not blame yourself.
“Don’t be down on yourself for being down,” he says. “Think of it like the flu. You’re going to hang in there and weather that storm.”
3 of Dan’s Reasons to Live
- Discovering your gifts. “A part of our life’s journey is about understanding and appreciating what makes us unique.”
- Developing your own authority. “Learning to be your own coach, your own judge, and your own parent.”
- Harnessing anger. “There is so much energy in anger. It can be used as fuel to write, paint and compose.”