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By Cari Hachmann

Local author Kristi Hugstad will publish her new book, Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis, on Sept.10, which is also World Suicide Prevention Day. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month.

Author Hugstad will be doing a meet-and-greet book signing at Beach Town Books, 99 Avenida Serra, San Clemente, on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 2-5 p.m. There will also be a drawing in which winners get the chance to send free copies of the book to a school of their choice.

Dana Point Author Kristi Hugstad’s new book, Beneath the Surface. Photo: Courtesy of New World Library

Hugstad has dedicated her life to helping abolish the stigma of mental illness and suicide ever since her husband, who struggled with clinical depression for years, died by suicide in 2012.

That mission, along with an increase in teen suicide and mental health issues in recent years, are what inspired her to write Beneath the Surface.

Hugstad’s goal is to share the things she has learned about mental health that could have saved her husband if she had known them earlier with as many parents, educators, and teens who have friends in crisis as possible.

A certified grief recovery specialist and a grief and loss facilitator for recovering addicts at South Coast Behavioral Health, Hugstad frequently speaks at high schools. She is also the host of The Grief Girl podcast and lives in Dana Point. Visit her online at

While growing up has never been easy, today’s teens face unique challenges. In addition to dealing with cliques and peer pressure, they live in a fast-changing social media world that exposes and makes people vulnerable as much as it connects.

Factor in mass shootings, daily reports about climate change, and the prospect of crippling debt from college loans, and it’s no wonder that rates of teen depression, anxiety and, tragically, suicide are soaring, says Kim Corbin, senior publicist at New World Library, a San Francisco Bay Area-based American publisher of books for adults and children.

In Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis (New World Library), Hugstad talks with, rather than down to, teens (and the parents and teachers who love them), about issues such as depression, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety, bullying, substance abuse, suicide and more. She encourages them to reach out for help when they need it.

Each chapter of Beneath the Surface addresses a different cause or aspect of depression and suicidal thoughts, many of which are a normal aspect of growing up, Corbin says.

The book includes real-life examples of young people who have suffered depression firsthand. It aims to help readers recognize the risk factors and warning signs. It offers practical exercises to help readers quickly and confidently identify whether they or someone they know are in need of help, and if so, what to do and where to go for it.

“Depression can strike anyone and does not discriminate,” Corbin said. “This book can save lives.”


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