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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 destigmatize 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. 

Friday, May 15 at 5 pm, 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.

Thursday, May 28, 5:30 pm, the 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. 

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.


Compassion Center for SAMSHA Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

Friday, May 15 at 5:00 pm

Join via Zoom


Book to Action Mental Health Awareness Month Community Panel

Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 pm


Where Reason Ends Book Discussion

Tuesday, May 19 at 6:00 pm

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

Contact: Molly Wetta, Library Services Manager

Phone: (805) 564-5642




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