Dealing with Death in Life and Literature


  • Deborah Eades McNemee Andover Central High School, Andover, Kansas



suicide in literature, death in literature, death scenes, emotional triggers, suicide as plot


As teachers of English, we cannot escape exposing our students to emotional triggers in the classroom. When my student's father (a former classmate of mine) died by suicide, I found myself struggling with the ever-present emotional trigger of death and/or suicide in every major literary work scheduled for study that year. Death is unavoidable. Reading about death is also, apparently, unavoidable, but I was not convinced that violent death deserved so much of our literary attention, especially for this young man whose pain was raw and new.

Author Biography

  • Deborah Eades McNemee, Andover Central High School, Andover, Kansas

    Deborah Eades McNemee graduated from Friends University with a degree in Secondary English Education and from Wichita State University with a Master's in English. She currently teaches both on-level and Advanced Placement language arts courses at Andover Central High School. She has piloted creative writing programs in two different districts, encouraging her students to reach novel writing goals in cooperation with NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. In partnership with The Big Read Wichita, her classes have hosted student-led events for seven of the last eight years. Her favorite part of teaching is seeing students who profess to hate English class learn to love reading and writing. She can be reached at






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