Santa Barbara Public Library’s Book to Action Program Focuses on Mental Health and Suicide Awareness

Books give us a window into experiences we have trouble understanding, and have the power to spark conversations about tough topics we might not otherwise discuss. Santa Barbara has a troubling history of teen suicide, which peaked in 2016 with a cluster of 71 reported incidents, including 64 attempts. By reading and discussing a book, SBPL hopes to de-stigmatize conversations about mental health and suicide and raise awareness about services available in our community for those struggling with mental illness or experiencing thoughts of suicide.

The featured title, Where Reasons Ends by Yiyun Li, is a novel in the form of an imagined conversation between a mother and a child who has recently committed suicide. Written in the months after she herself lost a child to suicide, the book vividly captures the profound pain of losing a child, as well as the intensity of a mother’s love. Li’s perspective as a survivor of suicide herself adds dimension and nuance to the novel.

Dozens of copies of the novel are available through SBPL Delivers! Program and can be mailed to residents of Santa Barbara, Montecito, or Carpinteria. Request via the website and specify “Where Reasons End” in the title request. Digital copies are available in ebook and eaudio format via Overdrive.

In addition to a book discussion, the Library has partnered with community organizations on events.

Compassion Center for SAMSHA Suicide Prevention Awareness Day
Friday, May 15 at 5:00 pm
Recorded Event on Facebook (discussion starts around 4:00 minute mark)
Santa Barbara Public Library will host a Virtual Compassion Center in partnership with Santa Barbara Response Network (SBRN). This Compassion Center will discuss suicide, suicidology, suicidal thoughts, warning signs, and resources available in our community and nationally, with a. particular focus on supporting youth in Santa Barbara.

Book to Action Mental Health Awareness Month Community Panel
Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 pm
Recorded Event on Facebook / YouTube Videos are embedded below and linked here in both English & Spanish
Santa Barbara Public Library will host a Virtual Community Panel about the current work to support the mental health of our community. Discussion topics will include the importance of self-care,  and participants will learn about activities to support their mental well-being. Panelists include Dr. Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent at SB Unified School District, Suzanne Grimmesey, Chief Quality Care and Strategy Officer at Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, and Jina Carvalho, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Response Network.

Where Reason Ends Book Discussion
Tuesday, May 19 at 6:00 pm

The goal of SBPL’s Book to Action programming is to destigmatize conversations about mental health and suicide and raise awareness about services.  World-renowned writer and transgender activist Kate Bornstein will be joining the Santa Barbara community for two events.

Bornstein is the author of several books, including the revised and updated Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (2016), A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir (2012), and Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws (2006). These books examine identity from many perspectives and also contain a multitude of strategies, support, and real-life examples for living through tough times. Her books are available from SBPL digitally through Overdrive or in print.

Author Kate Bornstein at PROUD Summer Program Kickoff
Tuesday, June 16, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
In partnership with the Pacific Pride Foundation, Bornstein will be a guest speaker at the kick-off to their PROUD Summer Program for LGBTQ+ & Ally Youth on Tuesday, June 16. This program will meet online 4:30 – 6:00 PM every Tuesday and Thursday – exploring LGBTQ+ youth fiction and graphic novels accessible online through the Library. Interested teens can sign up with Pacific Pride Foundation by filling out this form.

Author Kate Bornstein
Thursday, June 18, 5:30 pm
Recorded Event on Facebook
Bornstein will give a free public presentation on her life and experience as a nonbinary trans individual, her own struggles with mental health, how we can care about the quality of our lives, and ways to keep every last one of us alive followed by the opportunity for questions.  To join the discussion, register via the Library’s website, and you will receive information on how to join the Zoom via email.


About Book to Action 
The Santa Barbara Public Library is one of 25 California libraries chosen for Book to Action 2020, funded by the California Center for the Book. California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

Visit the Santa Barbara Public Library online at for information. All library services are free and open to the public.