On the 30th of July we celebrate Paperback Book Day. Books used to be far less convenient, often heavy and cumbersome – great for holding open a door or for leaving on top of things that need flattening. But with the production of the paperback, books became portable, something you can take on a train or read under a tree in the shade on a bright summer’s day. There was no longer a reason to be incarcerated in a fusty library to read your book – you could take it wherever you were going.

Reading can take us away, somewhere different from where we might be. Reading forces us to engage our imagination and in turn exercise our brain. Paperbacks allow us to do this within an environment which can heighten this experience. Holding a book, feeling its creases and smelling its odours can invoke memories of comfort or of childhood. Books can become our friends to turn to in times of need when we know a book well. Or help us take a new path when reading something for the first time; opening our minds and helping us find new horizons.

These days we can also take an e-reader with us which may hold many books; whole libraries even. For many of us though, the modern e-reader just doesn’t have that same nostalgic comfort that a physical book can provide, leading more and more of us to return to the humble paperback.

Here at PAPYRUS, we are often asked what can help if you’re struggling to live with thoughts of suicide. There’s no one answer to this question. But if books are your bag – don’t discount them. Sure, it can be hard to digest the words if you’re overwhelmed with thoughts of suicide – in such times it might be better to turn to something you know already. A book that brings comfort and even a small distraction from thoughts of suicide could bring an enormous feeling of relief or comfort in the moment.

For those avid readers who have been living with thoughts of suicide for a long time – remember that reading can provide knowledge and understanding. Maybe you’ll learn ways to combat what’s contributing to your thoughts of suicide. Or you might discover an interest that starts to make you feel more hopeful again.

If thoughts of suicide are making you feel numb, maybe a book can help you feel again; even if that feeling is painful. You might need to feel it to overcome it. Books may help you connect with others if you’re lonely too. A shared passion and interest can bring people together in a world that increasingly feels disconnected.

So on Paperback Book Day – pick up your favourite book, get yourself comfy, mute your phone and stick on your comfy clothes- because for the next few hours at least, you’re having a break from your thoughts – you’re going to be lost in a book instead.

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