Woodhaven native’s seventh novel addresses modern-day mental health issues

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Seems a lot of guys are feeling lost these days.

Troubling evidence is emerging which suggests that more than ever before, younger men have been struggling with low self-esteem, depression, loneliness and, in some cases, opioid addiction. Sadly, male suicide rates have increased nationwide, according to reports.

Queens native Thomas Duffy has tapped into this modern-day crisis with his seventh fiction novel – just released on Amazon – titled “Social Work.” He has written about a wide range of topics, including romance and existentialism, and even working in retail. 

“A little over two years ago, I lost a friend to suicide,” Duffy recalled. “I never knew he was suffering from depression so intensely and having dealt with depression myself, I felt if I had known that, I could have tried to help him.”

The author, who was raised in Woodhaven and currently lives in Glen Oaks, felt that he needed to tell a story that addressed the complex issues surrounding suicide – through the eyes of a young man who is trying to deal with his mental health issues.

“I wanted to show that it is possible to overcome mental illness through treatment. There are parts of the main character [Marc] that parallel certain situations I’ve found myself in,” he explained. 

When you read “Social Work,” you’ll understand why the special bond between Marc and his social worker Lauren, is so strong.

“At first, they don’t like each other much, but as the story progresses, they tend to sort of cherish their sessions together,” Duffy said. “For Marc, because he gets to talk about his problems, and for Lauren, because she gets to help him with advice. I feel the reader can relate to both characters, which is so very important.”

Comparing this story to the film “Silver Linings Playbook,” he explains that hope is the central theme of his book.

The author’s other novels on Amazon include: “Stockboy,” “Off the Line,” “One Love,” “Heartbreaker” and “To Never Know.”

He recently talked about “Social Work” and his previous novel, “The Separation” (his “most daring book yet”), on a show called “Between the Covers — Celebrating Books,” which was aired live before a studio audience on Strong Island Television from Paradise Studios on Long Island.

So, what is the common theme connecting all seven stories?

“Trying to find purpose and meaning in life; I think all the books convey this idea,” Duffy said.

In fact, most have some elements of his life woven throughout.

Duffy, who says he enjoys bouncing around different Queens neighborhoods, graduated from P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill (where he earned a Creative Writing award), J.H.S. 210 (Ozone Park), and Christ the King H.S. (Middle Village). He got his BA from Pace University.

In his spare time, the author reviews movies on social media, and credits his parents (both huge film buffs) for instilling in him his love for the silver screen. He said he has interviewed several celebrities, including Minnie Driver and Richard Dreyfuss.

After reading “Social Work,” folks should come away with a better understanding of the challenges that people struggling with mental issues face, because those who suffer are oftentimes, our family members, friends and neighbors, Duffy said.

“If anything, I hope this book helps fight the stigma associated with mentally illness,” he said.