Allison's Book Bag

#I Was Here Moment

Posted on: February 20, 2015

If you go to the website for I Was Here, you’ll find a tool for creating your own special #IWasHere moment along with an inspirational quote from the book. It is simple to use and can provide pictures for sharing on social media.


I Was Here is not a suicide book. Instead, it’s about those who are left behind and the impact of suicide on them. In the case of Foreman’s young adult novel, Meg left behind her parents, her brother, her best friend, her ex-boyfriend, her college roommates, and even two rescued kittens. That’s a lot of people who were left with questions, to grief, and to wonder what happened.

I Was Here is also about the question: “Why should I live?” For Cody, Meg’s best friend, her father had deserted the family as a baby. Her mother stuck around but often seemed just as absent. Meg’s family had largely helped raise Cody, and kept inviting her over after their daughter’s suicide, but obviously they’re absorbed in grief. As for friends, Cody didn’t have close ones outside of Meg. And now Meg is dead. Nor did Cody have a boyfriend. For all these reasons, she sometimes felt kind of aimless. In investigating Meg’s death, Cody starts herself to feel suicidal.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention records that, in 2013, about 40,000 suicides were reported. Apparently then, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death of Americans, with someone in United States dying by suicide every 12.8 minutes.

I Was Here is about adolescent suicide. The highest suicide rates are actually among the middle-aged (about 19 per 100,000) and then seniors (about 18 per 100,000). However, young people have a suicide rate of about 10 per 100,000, making suicide a cause of concern no matter what one’s age. On a related note, about 500,000 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 12 people harm themselves for every reported death by suicide.

Not only is I Was Here about suicide, but it was inspired a real-life suicide that author Gayle Foreman encountered. Foreman talked with many women as part of an article Foreman did during her journalism year about the history of women and suicide. One woman who attempted to kill herself was Suzy Gonzales. Foreman found the circumstances around the suicide heartbreaking: the fact that Gonzales was so charismatic and that she’d been involved with a suicide “support” group that had championed her decision to end her own life.

What reasons did Cody, the main character in I Was Here have to live? Despite her mother’s frequent failures, she did love Cody and would be devastated if Cody died. Despite how they sometimes seemed oblivious to Cody’s pain, Meg’s family treasured her as if she too were their daughter. They also would be devastated if they suffered the loss of another loved one. Then there are the new friends whom Cody meets while investigating Meg’s death, including a tragic guitar hero who needs someone in his life to love as much as Cody does. Aside from all those who care for her, there’s also all the things Cody would miss if she died, including a future full of possibilities—if she’s only willing to embrace them. Ultimately, Foreman says, “this book is about Cody and her resilience and her finding the strength for forgiveness and understanding”.

That’s where #IWasHere is a rallying cry, recognizing the things you’ve done that have already had a ripple effect and made a mark on the world. You already do matter so much. And so wanting to get readers to realize that, we asked, what are those moments where you’ve already made your existence in this world known, no matter how brief? Because they matter hugely. And most of these moments are connected to other people — to friends and family and the people who you love. And that is where your being here truly matters.

–Gayle Foreman, Bustle

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