“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” – real life struggles help students

I’m so sorry to hear that Ned Vizzini died. His movie about teenage anxiety and depression, “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”, helped many of my high school students address their issues. “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”, which was first a novel, then a movie, is about a 16-year old struggling with depression and suicide-ideation because of school and family pressures. NPR named  “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” one of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels of all time.

I have shown the movie during many semesters to my 15 and 16-year old IB Diploma students who are often weighed down by similar troubles. The students enjoy watching the movie because there are many messages that they can relate to in it, plus actor/comedian Zach Galifianakis makes it funny at times.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a few students come up to me after watching “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” to say that they can relate, that they feel the same pressures, and that it’s good to know they’re not alone in feeling this way. This communication allowed me to get supports in place to help them with their stress.  It served to bring some of the “high fliers” to my attention, so that I could get them help.

After watching “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”, one of the students, who also was in a psych ward for depression and suicidal ideation, like the movie’s lead character, wrote to other students:

The takeaway from this film should be: material success and academic performance have no bearing on your happiness. What really matters is how you treat other people, how you act in the face of adversity, and how you find fulfillment, whatever it is.

I heard Ned Vizzini keynote once at a gifted conference. He was a compelling speaker. I bought his book Teen Angst. I’m sorry to hear that Ned Vizzini couldn’t overcome his demons but it’s good to know he’ll be helping others with their issues for years to come through what he left behind in his many books and movie. Read about Ned Vizzini’s life in his New York Times obituary.


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