Erica Kitzman is a writer, researcher, and mother bereaved by suicide.

Dissertation Intro: We learn by reading, through other modes of sensory input, and by exploration of the world around us. Learning through reading is the focus of this work.  When we first learn to read, and if we have both hearing and vision, we learn from hearing sounds and seeing illustrations. Next, we learn to identify and create individual figures in an alphabet and eventually we learn to read and write words. Soon afterwards we move on to progressively more complex literacy concepts over our school years until we reach graduation. Throughout our school careers, we learn to critique reading materials via our parents’ and our teachers’ use of casual conversations, reading guides, and classroom discussions. Given these basic truths about reading, there is something urgent we now need to think about: What are children learning when they read explicit descriptions of self-harm within the books they read? Further, how can we magnify themes of resilience - if these exist - in these same texts? First, we can train ourselves to notice and address depictions of self-harm and resilience-building practices in children’s and teen literature by using evidence-based guidelines of what constitutes these behaviors. Then we can find a way to teach children to do the same.


(as) Brief Media Survey on the frequency of suicide in popular media.

(ar) Ongoing Results of the Brief Media Survey on the frequency of suicide in popular media.

(is) Extended Survey: Resiliency + Self-Harm in Children's, Teen, and Young Adult Fiction


  • Parity in life-habits research gathered by direct input from suicide attempt survivors, families and friends of attempt survivors, and suicide loss survivors.

  • Legislation supporting youth directed access to social and emotional services.