Jane Merksy Leder

Self-Help, History, Parenting & Relationships

Author Profile

Jane  Merksy Leder

My search for answers about why my brother and other young adults and teens take their own lives continues. This time around, I investigate new issues like bullying, social media, LGBTQ teens, and successful suicide prevention programs. While we can never say for certain why someone opts to die, we can help break the cycle of teen suicide. There is plenty we can do.

Books

Dead Serious: Second Edition

Self-Help

Are you or someone you know: * Under a lot of stress? * Being bullied? * Grappling with your sexual/gender identity? * Feeling anxious/depressed? * Struggling academically? * Thinking about suicide? The number of teens who take their lives continues to grow. What can you do to help break the cycle of teen suicide? Plenty. Recognize the warning signs. Don't wait until you or a friend is in crisis. Get ahead of the curve. Set up a network of peers and trusted adults that can listen and, if needed, connect to medical health professionals. Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide explores stories, strategies, and solutions. Suicide IS preventable.

Book Bubbles from Dead Serious: Second Edition

Winter and Reading Make For Good Bed Fellows

I have belonged to a book club for several years. Believe me, it's sometimes a challenge to sit still on a warm summer day and read when there is a garden to tend, a picnic to arrange, a walk to take. But winter? Now, that's another story. Cold and dreary days (and nights) lend themselves to wrapping up in a cocoon of blankets or comforters or cushy bathrobes, hunkering down and reading a good book--not the sappy beach book but something more meaty, more thought-provoking. Now I know a lot of folks love to read with a Kindle or other reader. Not me! I like holding a book in my hands--not some hard-edged device. I like to write notes in the margins (of course, not a library book on loan), flip down the corners of important pages, even create an outline or genealogical chart on the back side of the title page. Now don't get me wrong: in a pinch (when I'm traveling, for example), I download a book and read on my Kindle. But it's not the same. Nothing beats curling up with a "real" "live" book whose pages spin wondrous tales and whose smells hold memories from long ago.

My Goal: Get Help

It is never easy to ask for help, particularly when you are hurting, feel embarrassed or just don't where to turn. This excerpt includes the beginnings of a list of suicide hotlines, support groups for everything from drug abuse to child abuse to eating disorders. Any one of these problems, combined with other factors, can bring a teen to the brink when ending life seems like a viable alternative. It is my goal--my dream--that Dead Serious will give you the tools to either help yourself or someone else who is unhappy, depressed, anxious. There is so much that can be done to break the cycle of teen suicide. I know you can play an important role.

The News Isn't Good

I bet you either know someone personally or have a friend or neighbor or teacher who has taken her own life. The news isn't good and, despite all the efforts in schools and youth organizations and in special workshops, young people continue to think about or complete suicide at alarming rates. So, what's the answer? Hopefully, you can start by picking up a copy of Dead Serious. You might even want to share it with a parent. (Okay, I get it. You don't feel like talking much to your mom and/or dad. But you may be surprised.) You may want to encourage your school to start a suicide prevention program that has been researched and has shown good results. And, most importantly, talk to your peers. Listen. See what's up. And, if you're concerned, encourage them to talk to a trusted adult.

LGBTQ Abridged Glossary of Terms

I don't know about you, but I get tongue tied when thinking/talking about the many terms used to describe gender identity these days. And even though I wrote a chapter about LGBTQ teens in my book DEAD SERIOUS, I needed a glossary of terms then and still do. So, I hope you'll take a look at this and keep it handy.

Teens and Depression

It is depressing to consider how many teen are depressed. Even more disheartening is the number of young people who could be helped with professional help, but the numbers of adolescents who don't have access to therapy. Part of this has to do with a lack of facilities; part of it has to do with lack of insurance. While it's encouraging that state, local and some federal programs are addressing the heroin epidemic, it is not enough. Get involved. Write your political representatives. Talk to teens and encourage them to talk--if not with a trained professional than with a "trusted" adult.

The "Listening" Gene

Once our ability to empathize is in place, many folks are born with the "listening" gene and know what to say, when and how. Somehow over the years, that skill is drummed out of us. We're too busy. We don't have role models who listen with care and understanding. But all is not lost. We can learn how to listen and how to let others know we "hear" them and their problems.

LGBTQ Teens

Until recently, there were a limited number of reports and surveys about LGBT youth. What's clear in the new studies is that LGBT teens deal not only with the challenges that all teens face during adolescence but a string of other stresses like families who kick their kids out the home which leads to homelessness, drug/alcohol abuse, risky sexual behavior--all the result of families who can't tolerate a child who is gay. Gay teens deal with more bullying than their straight peers. Often, gender identity can be a problem. The good news: Gay teens like Milenka have thrived, in spite of (and because of) the barriers they face.

Bullying: A Power Play That Hurts

The way kids bully has changed since I was growing up--probably, you as well. Roughhousing in the school playground, calling names, maybe not inviting someone to a birthday party or sleepover -- that's what bullying used to be about. Not anymore. With social media, texting and more, bullying is now 24/7. There is no escape. Bullying doesn't end when the victim escapes to his/her house. Sure, we can tell kids to dump their social media accounts. Stop texting. Don't answer your cell. Ignore emails--even cancel your account. Good luck with that! I wrote this chapter to help teens (and adults) better understand what bullying is all about and ways in which they can help stop the emotional and physical hurt.

Over The Edge

What makes some teens resilient enough that they overcome their suicidal thoughts and move on, while others aren't so lucky? There is a lot to be learned from interviews with teens who tried to take their own lives but who were, thankfully, unsuccessful. Some of their reasons seem flimsy at best; others, much more serious. There is never just one reason why a teen (or anyone) decides to attempt suicide. There is usually a combination of at least six. Kate's story is a window into one teen's world and all the things that went wrong.

Myth Versus Reality

There are so many myths floating around about teen suicide--suicide period. When people don't know the truth, it's hard, if not impossible, to recognize when someone is in trouble, at risk for suicide or at risk for attempting suicide more than once. I know that I thought--mistakenly as it turns out--that once a person seemed to have emerged from a depression, he would be in the clear with no possibility of considering suicide again. Wrong. I fell into that trap with my own brother, as did the rest of my family. We were so relieved that my brother/son had weathered the storm that we let our guard down. And that was a terrible mistake.

The Numbers Just Get Worse

As if these numbers are not startling enough, new CDC data reported this month (December, 2017), that, on average, one child under age 18 takes his/her own life every six hours. What can friends, teachers, parents do to help break this cycle? At the first sign of depression and/or anxiety disorder, the young person should be treated by a health professional. If there has been a previous suicide attempt, do not think that there won't be another. In fact, the numbers dispute that myth. And, of course, make access to guns, prescription medication impossible and other potential means of suicide out of the home.

The Age of Anxiety

Why are more American teens than ever suffering from anxiety? Natalie's answer is to the point: Kids live their lives "for the future instead of actually just living." Sadly, Natalie is spot on. Depression is on the rise, particularly among teen girls. Today, extreme anxiety is recognized as a disorder. Sometimes they go hand in hand, sometimes not. The good news: with early intervention, anxiety disorder can be treated. The sad news: 80 percent of young people with a diagnosable anxiety disorder do NOT get treatment. There is work to be done!

One Story Equals Many

Kevin's story captures the story of many. He is unprepared for his friend's depression and has no idea how to react, what questions to ask, where to go for help. Like many teens (and adults), Kevin doesn't believe that Brad is serious. It's easier to just let things go or assume that all this talk is an attempt for attention. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. In this first chapter, my goal is to capture the reader's attention with a personal story that is universal.

Why Write a 2nd Edition?

After reading an article about middle school students and the surge in the number of suicides among this age group, I felt compelled to pick up where I'd left off some three decades ago and revise the 1st edition of Dead Serious. Taking this journey has been enlightening, moving, and informative. I have covered new topics like bullying, LGBTQ teens, and suicide prevention programs that work. I have interviewed experts and teens who were willing to share their stories--many of them difficult but encouraging. My hope is that Dead Serious will be read by teens, adults, and educators who will come away with strategies and tools they can use to help break the cycle of teen suicide.

Dead Serious: First Edition

Self-Help

Youth suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people in the United States. Dead Serious uses narratives, life stories, and updated facts to encourage readers to recognize the signs of suicide, debunk myths, and help those who may be considering suicide.

Book Bubbles from Dead Serious: First Edition

Conflict Resolution

When I wrote this last chapter of DEAD SERIOUS, it was my hope to help friends (and family, teachers, counselors) better understand the many ways they could talk to a young person who was thinking about suicide. Over the years, I'd read (and written, too) about active listening skills and conflict resolution, in general. I also took a PET (Parent Effectiveness Training) course when my then two-year-old son was not getting my messages. (It became obvious that a large part of the problem was mine and my inability to resolve conflicts in a way that he understood and I could affect.) With all of this in mind, I tried to give concrete examples of potential conversations to show how successful active listening skills can be in solving conflicts . . . this one more important than any other.

Cathartic Release

It's been almost 35 years since my brother took his own life. “The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said or never explained.” – Abraham Verghese

Other Resources

I think it's always important to suggest additional reading for those who want more information. I added some of these titles in 2014 to bring the original list up to date. Check it out.

What To Do

I wrote this chapter after talking to young people and teachers about how young people, parents, and others can help when someone they know may be suicidal. I wish I had known all of this when my brother was depressed. I didn't know he was suicidal at the time but could have used the information in this chapter to help me find out and take action.

Updating Statistics

I'm shocked and dismayed that, since the first edition of this book was published in 1988, the statistics remain almost the same. With all the media attention, self help groups and help lines, the number of young people taking their own lives or seriously considering suicide is shockingly high. I decided to publish DEAD SERIOUS as an eBook in the hopes that at least a few readers will realize that they're not alone and that many of their problems are either temporary or can be solved through counseling, medication, or both.

Holidays Are For Remembering Better Times

The holidays can be a difficult time for families and friends of young people who have taken their own lives. For years, even though all the dining room chairs in my family's home were occupied, there was an imaginary chair that remained empty --- the chair where my brother used to sit. The best thing we can do around the holidays is to remember and share the stories of better times when our loved ones were alive and happy.

Over The Edge: Talks with Suicide Attempters

I was fortunate to have access to a group of young people who had attempted suicide. Interviewing these young adults helped me better understand why my brother may have taken his own life. When there is no suicide note and no recognizable signs, family and friends are left with a myriad of questions. Discovering the reasons why the people I talked to had decided to commit suicide provided a window through which I could begin the healing process, a process that has continued for over 30 years.

Parents' Grief

Interviewing parents of a young person who took her own life was a humbling and difficult task. Their pain was still palpable, no matter how many years had passed. Experts say that losing a child is just behind losing a twin in terms of the pain and time it takes to grieve and put lives back together. I can relate. I didn't lose a child but a brother. He took his own life more than 30 years ago, and I still miss him and wish I had the answers as to why he decided death was more attractive than life.

The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives

Parenting & Relationships

When it comes to our siblings, we often think of sibling rivalry. But the sibling connection is much more. It is mysterious, complex, and constantly changing. Our siblings are major players in our lives and impact everything from our choice of profession to our choice of a husband, wife, or partner. Siblings are reflections of ourselves and help us better understand who we are, why we are, and the way we are.

Book Bubbles from The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives

Siblings and the Holidays

Why not download copies of The Sibling Connection for $.99 between November 21 and December 4? The ebook is a perfect gift for you and your siblings with the holidays upon us. Are the holidays the best time to soothe bad feelings? Is your parents' home the place to work out snags from the past? Probably not. This chapter provides some tools and suggestions for restoring a frayed sibling connection.

THE "LIFE REVIEW"

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of D Day, a day on which the Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and launched the effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi Germany. It's on days like these that I spend time thinking about my parents, both deceased, and the extraordinary lives these ordinary people lived. And I think about my then two remaining siblings, our unique relationships with our parents, and the ways we have helped each other look back on our own lives and to validate our experiences.

When We're All Grown Up

My sister just had a birthday. She is now eligible for Medicare and will, as I told her, enjoy the benefits as I have for several years now. We may be getting older but can finally get some recompense for all the time we spent in the world of work . . . she as a freelance video artist turned painter, and me as an author/journalist who is still authoring and journaling. Hats off to my sister and me!

New Birth Order Study

With several books out there about the importance of birth order, I was a bit hesitant to compare the order in which siblings are born to astrology. (Don't get me wrong: I've dabbled with astrology.) Still, the experts I interviewed for THE SIBLING CONNECTION were unanimous in the overemphasis on birth order when it comes to better understanding who we are. A recent study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found differences in personality and IQ associated with birth order, but the variations are so slight they don’t have much practical impact, Voila!

Siblings Day: Who Knew?

There's a day for just about everyone and everything. But I had no idea there was a Siblings Day. Surprise! Surprise! I came up with the following fun ideas for Siblings Day gifts. There are more at janeleder.net 1. An olive branch or peace pipe: 2. Toilet basketball game perfect for the brother in your life: 3. A funny t-shirt that says it all. 4. Bacon bandages: Seriously. Sounds crazy, right? But for siblings who have always hated acknowledging their physical (or emotional) bruises, these bandages are a hoot. 5. For that snarky sibling, how about a pair of Shark Socks? 6. Funny books about brothers and sisters. Like mine.

All The Goodies: A Book About Brothers

I thought it might be valuable to let potential readers know the topics covered in the book. As you might guess, the book targets siblings. Duh! But it's also a good read and provides tools for parents, grandparents, counselors and educators. If you click on either of the following two links, you can see a more detailed list of tools for each audience. janeleder.net http://bit.ly/24QAOgX SIBLINGS DAY COMING UP: April 10 The Sibling Connection makes a great gift.

When Siblings Marry

I wish I could explore my feelings about my siblings' spouses/partners. Alas, I am the only one of four siblings who married. Maybe to make up for the others, I married twice. (Guess that means I have at least two marriages to go.) In talking to experts and to siblings who do have brother- and/or sister-in-laws, the reality seems to be these relationships can be tricky, often less than positive. On the other hand, at least one-third of siblings when interviewed reported liking their brother-and/or sister-in-laws.

A Foreword Worth Reading

Nothing is more gratifying to an author (well, selling books probably comes first) than having one of the movers and shakers in the field write a glowing foreword. So, here's what Stephen P. Band, Ph.D., A.B.P.P, coauthor of The Sibling Bond, had to say. (Bank has left the sibling business and now teaches Shakespeare to high school students. What a fun change!) And what fun (and eye-opening) The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives will be. Happy reading!

What Others Are Saying

I hope that reading what others are saying about The Sibling Connection will motivate you to take a look at the book. Since its publication at the end of 2015, many have written customer reviews on Amazon and on other online sites. * "What a terrific book about those relationships in our lives that will last the longest." * "Every dynamic of the "longest relationship we will every have" is in this beautifully written book". * "A good read....very thought provoking! At age 72, and the oldest of six unique siblings, I read this book with great interest and highly recommend it!"

My Brother

Sad but true. And here I am writing a book about how siblings shape our lives. Crazy, isn't it? But while some of our sibling connections are warm and fuzzy, others are not. For me, the key is to understand what goes right and why and what goes wrong. And then the big challenge: How to fix a broken connection.

The Death of a Sibling

If you've read other Bubbles, you know that I lost a brother to suicide. From the day of his funeral onward, my two surviving siblings and I felt like "invisible" mourners whose feelings of loss, sadness, anger, guilt were overlooked. I can understand why people focused on my parents and their loss. But what about us? The siblings? How were we supposed to feel? Where was our support? How were we to carry on? "The Death of a Sibling" explores these questions in hopes of finding answers for us and for the increasing number of siblings who lose a brother or sister prematurely.

Siblings: When We're All Grown Up

I figured mothers, in particular, would pick up The Sibling Connection. And then I assumed that readers in their late forties or fifties would be keenly interested in the subject. After all, the sibling rivalry thing has hopefully dissipated, if not disappeared. So, what's next? What can brothers and sisters look forward to as they age? Does feeling more comfortable within ourselves make it easier to feel comfortable with our siblings? How can siblings help each other out at this stage in their lives?

THE THIRTIES

I wondered what siblings learn from growing up with at least one sibling of the opposite sex. And I was curious how the majority of siblings feel when a brother or sister marries. I was surprised to learn that two-thirds of the siblings interviewed in what was then one of the few studies of young-and middle-adult siblings said that the marriages of their siblings detracted from their relationship. Sadly, neither of my siblings married. I had no personal experience. So, I relied on interviews with sibs to get a better handle on all of this.

Birth Order

How many times have you been asked where you fall in birth order among your siblings? Probably often. Me, too! So I set off to check out the research to see how valid hierarchy is in determining who we are. Well, truth is birth order is no more predictable than your daily horoscope. Sure, we can always find "truths" in our astrological sign, and the same goes for birth order. But it's not all she wrote. Not even close.

Films About Siblings

I was trying to understand why films and books about siblings were plentiful but that researchers and clinicians had barely touched the sibling connection. I started to compile a list but would love to get your input and possibly include more examples in the next incarnation of The Sibling Connection.

Seniors and Siblings

As a Baby Boomer (well, six months ahead of the official start date), I now have to consider my life as a senior. (I keep telling myself that "70 is the new 50.") Part of that consideration has to do with my surviving two siblings and our connections. Older adults overwhelmingly say they feel closer to their siblings than to any other relatives except their children. Nice to know!

Adult Sibs May Be Secret to Long, Happy Life

Wow! Now, that's interesting . . . but not entirely surprising. As we age and our parents and a number of friends have passed away and our adult children are ensconced in their own lives, it makes sense that connections with our brothers and sisters can be of great help and comfort. Still, who would have thought that the way we feel about our siblings can have a direct impact on our health and mood? I'm not sure I would have. But if new studies are beginning to show this correlation, I may be a believer.

A Sibling Quiz

I thought I'd create a quiz to help readers get a handle on where they stack up when it comes to their sibling connection(s). When I took the quiz, my sibling relationships fell into the "Your sibling relationships has played a role in your life, mostly positive." I wasn't surprised. The difference in age (my sister is six years younger) and the difference in personalities made for very close connections with one of my brothers but not so close with the other. In THE SIBLING CONNECTION, I wanted readers to focus first on their own sibling stories before reading about others.

Death of A Sibling

An important topic for me because my brother died by his own hand when he was 30. I lost my best friend in the family, my ally. But siblings are too often seen as “secondary mourners” whose pain is often overlooked or minimized. Looking back, I get that. At the time, I felt marginalized, alone, and angry. Only a handful of well meaning people attempted to make me feel better by patting me on the back with a “Keep an upper lip” or “Things will get better. They always do.” So, I wrote this chapter for me and for all of the brothers and sisters who have lost a sibling and need the support and stories of others in the same boat.

How to Reconnect with a Sibling

I have been estranged from my younger brother for four years and counting. When my mother was dying, he and I had a heart-to-heart talk that I thought had bridged the gag and signaled a new beginning. No such luck. Things returned to "normal" soon after her death and my father's. So I need these to practice the suggestions I offer up here. It's not easy to get over deep feelings of conflict. But it's worth a try. What's the alternative?

Myth v. Fact About Only Children

The two most important people in my life are only children: my son and my husband. As a mother, I worried that my son's social skills might not be up to par. As a wife, I worried that my husband might be a bit egotistical or lacking when it came to arguing fair and solving conflict. According to the experts, my fears were unfounded. Stereotypes about only children are just that. Stereotypes. In this chapter, I set out to set the record straight.

You're Not My Parent. You're Just My Sibling.

Well . . . yeah, that's what a lot of siblings say. I used to say it, too. But then one day it dawned on me that siblings had gotten the short end of the stick. It was if these folks with whom we spend more time than with our parents didn't mean a darn thing. They were like invisible or something. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Brothers and sisters teach each other all kinds of stuff: how to argue, how to solve problems, how to express feelings (or not), what to think of the opposite sex . . . The list goes on and on. If we want to know more about who and why we are, we need to know our siblings.

That Good Ole' Birth Order Theory

I don't think there's a sibling out there who doesn't begin to define herself/himself by birth order. Oldest? Youngest? Middle Child? We've been led to believe that many of our personality traits are based on our position within the sibling hierarchy. Truth is: birth order is as reliable as your horoscope.

The Sibling Connection

I just didn't get it. There was so little information out there about how brothers and sisters shape our lives. Siblings had been relegated to the bench when it came to family relationships. But I knew from personal experience that my brother's death, for example, turned my world upside down. I understood how the history I shared with my surviving siblings helped me better know myself. So, I set out to uncover the mysteries, complexities, and wonders of the sibling connection. What I discovered was fascinating, instructive and immensely helpful in understanding who we are and why. PRE ORDERS of THE SIBLING CONNECTION AVAILABLE on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2.

Jane  Merksy Leder

Working Title: Thanks For The Memories

This Book Is In Development

Thanks For The Memories

History

Thanks For The Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II is the true story of how the World War II generation responded to the passions of war and how their lives and the relationships between the sexes were forever changed.

Rough-Cut Book Bubbles from Thanks For The Memories

Gays in the Military

I knew something of the history of African Americans in the military during WWII. And I assumed gays were also discriminated against. But I didn't have the facts. Writing this chapter was an eye-opener for me. The interviews with gay and lesbian veterans were fascinating though quite disturbing. When a man or woman is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and go off to war, their sexuality, just like their gender or race, should not be a factor. How far have we really come since the start of WW II?

A New Book

When I first started writing this book, my intent was to focus on women like my mother, camp wives. But prospective publishers wanted more. So, I expanded my topic to include men as well. And that made all the difference!

What A Story! Who Knew?

One Thanksgiving evening after the men had retired to watch Detroit play Green Bay, my mother, her cousin, and I stayed at the dining room table. I can't remember how the conversation turned to their experiences during World War II, but it did. That conversation about following their husbands until the men were shipped overseas, going to work, helping keep the war machinery moving full speed, and waiting for their husbands to return home in one piece took my breath away. That conversation served as the genesis of this book. I interviewed scores of women who shared their stories of love, sex, and liberation during World War II.

Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish