All the Bright Places – Don’t Blame Yourself

When he stood on the ledge of the bell tower and saw that girl, he chose to save her. But when he was drowning in his own mind, he didn’t want to be saved.

The book All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven tells the story of the boy Finch who committed suicide and the girl Violet who tried to save him. The main character Violet’s reactions to a suicide in the climax of this book has a lot of similarities to how I would react. Her decision to reach out for help is exactly how I would do if I realized that someone around me needs support. This book was inspired by personal experience of the author from her great-grandfather, her father, and a boy she loved. She wishes to express her feelings towards mental and emotional illnesses by writing this book, and by doing so, she hopes to affect others who experience suicidal situations from their peers.

Violet decided to inform to her parents about Finch’s situation the moment she realized something was wrong. This is the climax of the entire book, where right afterwards Finch runs away without telling anyone his destinations and leaving Violet alone, regretting for her actions. “I send him a text, telling him I’m sorry. By midnight, he still hasn’t texted back.” (Niven 309). For a short period of time, Finch replied to Violet’s messages. However, after five strange sentences, everything goes absolutely quiet. The plot accelerates after odd emails from Finch, sent to his friends, sisters, and Violet. The emails indicate the final farewells from Finch. In Violet’s email, Finch quoted the book The Waves by Virginia Woolf, and the words make Violet realize that something is wrong. The next time she sees Finch, he was the blue, bloated body the fire department hauled up. “I think: I hate you. If only I’d known. If only I’d been enough. I let you down. I wish I could have done something. I should have done something. Was is my fault? Why wasn’t I enough? Come back. I love you. I’m sorry.” (344).

Finch never expected Violet to tell others after he showed her his secret fort. “I kept your secrets; you keep mine.” (295). Yet Violet got really worried when she realized Finch has been living in his closet for a long time. “Yes. And I’m sorry, and I know you’re mad and disappointed, but I love him, and he saved me. You can tell me later how unhappy you are with me and how I’ve let you down, but right now I need to do what I can to make sure he’ll be okay.” (308). After the fight with Finch, she immediately goes home and tells her parents everything that’s happened, despite the fact that she wasn’t allowed to see Finch and would doubtlessly get in trouble right afterwards.

If someone I know is suffering from a mental illness and I noticed, I would react similar to Violet. I would go to someone as soon as possible, because any day wasted might worsen the situation. I would do all I can do to backup and seek help for that person, because I don’t want any life to simply withdraw from the world without living a happy life. There is a big difference on how Violet thought of what she did after Finch’s death. She blamed herself for not being able to keep Finch and acting upon her own thinking. Violet thought it was her fault that Finch committed suicide, since she was who told others when he wanted her to keep his secret. Even though I have never been through any of this and I cannot guarantee my actions, I believe that I wouldn’t blame myself. If I decided to support and help someone, I would have already been exact with my decisions, because there is no regret for something that has already happened. Although right now I say that I would not blame myself, no one ever knows what will happen if it a situation like this was placed on my shoulders. I hope that everyone who notices something wrong would step up, seek help, and support the people around them like Violet did.

Jennifer Niven wrote on page 382 in author’s note, “Often, mental and emotional illnesses go undiagnosed because the person suffering symptoms is too ashamed to speak up, or because their loved ones either fail to or choose not to recognize the signs.” The purpose of this book is to guide people, either suffering mental instability and suicidal thoughts or teens and adults that are in a situation like Violet was in, to seek help from resources and people. In the last four sentences of the book, Jennifer Niven refers to two groups of people, people suffering suicidal thoughts and people witnessing them. “If you think something is wrong, speak up. You are not alone. It is not alone. It is not your fault. Help is out there.” (382).