The Salem News often receives notes about story ideas from Salem residents, as well as past Salem residents. We try to follow the leads and speak to each person to develop the idea into an article, when feasible.
Former Salem resident Kendra (Nash) Nicholson contacted us in early August to let us know about her freshly-published book. It is a fictional work, journal-style, from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old who loses an older brother to suicide. While fiction, the subject matter is true-life and close to Kendra’s heart.
Trevor Nicholson was born July 22, 1999, to Brad and Kendra. He had an older brother, Cody. Trevor combated social anxiety and was impulsive, and thoroughly enjoyed rock climbing.
Trevor was in his first year of college and wasn’t transitioning well, and found himself battling severe depression. He moved from being a roommate with his brother in college back to his parents’ boat in the Port of Los Angeles. He began intensive therapy and seemed to be improving, remembered his mother.
On Jan. 25, 2018, he jumped from a six-story building in the port and died a few hours later at UCLA Medical Center.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after accidents and homicide. It's also thought that at least 25 attempts are made for every completed teen suicide, according to kidshealth.org.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” was a series adapted from a book by Jay Asher. The series was on Netflix for four seasons. It “explores and depicts a wide range of social issues affecting modern youth,” according to its Wikipedia summary. Many subjects, including suicide, that affect youth today were taboo as recent as a few years ago. While heavily criticized, the series was also proclaimed for tackling the tough subjects of bullying, underage alcohol and drug use, and suicide.
Nicholson hopes her book can help someone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.
“As we began trying to process his loss, and help our surviving son, who was 22-years-old and still in college, I realized that there was very little support out there for sibling survivors, so I decided to do something about it,” said Nicholson.
She was sharing stories about Trevor with friends and family via Facebook. Then writing about his loss became very therapeutic.
“It is a work of fiction, but there is a lot of Trevor’s personality in it with many of the stories of his life, his sense of humor, and his illness and death. The main character is a 13-year-old boy who loses his big brother to suicide, and the book deals with him trying to process the loss, move forward, and make sense of something that feels so senseless,” said Nicholson.
The book was released July 22, on what would have been Trevor’s 21st birthday.
Excerpt: “His door has been shut since he died. I thought about sneaking in there, but I went ahead and asked Mom if I could just sit in there with his stuff.”
Nicholson said the project took about 18 months. In her creative and healing process, she stepped away from it sometimes.
In the early months after Trevor’s death she was involved in individual therapy, and credited compassionate friends. However, the writing is what she tributes with helping the most.
The book is self-published by Nicholson’s publishing company, Forever 18. A large portion of proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to schools and support groups. She has been in contact with her alma mater, to donate a book to the counselor’s office in Salem.
“It is not about having a best-seller…it’s about reaching people who need it,” said Nicholson.
“The book has also been a way for me to try to ensure that Trevor is remembered for something other than his final impulsive act.”
Nicholson, and husband Brad, met at Missouri S&T when she took a summer course. After graduating from Salem High School in 1988, she went to college. Majoring in theatre, she later was in an improv and sketch group in California, and taught improv classes, as well.
Her parents, Vertis and Gloria Nash, are Salem natives and still reside here.
The book is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Climb-Kendra-Nicholson-ebook/dp/B08DDKQPMC