Suicide and Attempted Suicide: Methods and Consequences

Stone, Geo

Published by Carroll & Graf Pub
ISBN 10: 0786704926 / ISBN 13: 9780786704927
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0786704926 HC/DJ Stated First Edition. DJ has moderate wear - some edge wear and rubbing to corners, front flap has small crease - small tear on back by spine. Binding is good. Has not been price clipped - $27.95. Some light foxing to text block. Clean pages. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

---Dorothy Parker, Resume, 1926

The book is divided into two parts. The first half outlines a wide range of suicide-related topics: history of suicide; sociological, biological, and psychiatric views; why people kill themselves; intervention in suicide; assisted suicide in terminal illness; "living wills" and other advance directives; the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands and in the US.

The second half is an examination of how people kill themselves: This section describes, in sometimes-gory detail: (1) methods people use to commit suicide; (2) the medical consequences of suicide attempts; (3) how to carry out a safe suicidal gesture; (4) how to commit suicide as non-traumatically as possible.

You may find parts of it disturbing. But the consequences of ignorance are more disturbing: botched suicides, accidental deaths and maimed survivors, slow and painful deaths.

Every 18 minutes someone in the United States kills himself. A few are younger than ten years old; others over ninety. Between seven-and-a-half and sixteen percent take more than a day to die.

An estimated 300,000 to 600,000 survive suicide attempts, but suffer varying degrees of injury. Nineteen thousand are permanently disabled each year.

Estimates vary, but only about one in ten or twenty suicide attempts is fatal. Given the easy availability of highly lethal methods, it seems that most suicide attempters don't want to die.

Yet some people who didn't intend to die do kill themselves. Many lack knowledge of drugs and may unknowingly take a lethal overdose. Some expect rescuers to save them. Others, who are genuinely trying to die, live through their attempts. Many survive five-story jumps or head-in-the-oven gassing. Few have an accurate idea of how dangerous their chosen method is, or the consequences of its failure. Throughout the book, the author provides evidence of the medical effects of each suicide method so that you can make more realistic decisions, whether you're thinking about killing yourself or hoping to get help and attention. The author also cites his information sources in 40 pages of endnotes, so that you can readily look at the original data.

The material here is intended both for those who want a quick and relatively painless death, and for those who want to carry out a suicidal gesture as safely and non-injuriously as possible. If it convinces some potential suicides to seek other solutions--- suicide should be an absolutely last resort and mistakes may leave you crippled---so much the better. But the fact remains: there is no way to limit this knowledge to those whose motives one agrees with.

To make the author's premises explicit: (1) Decisions concerning your death should be, ultimately, yours to make; (2) Most--but not all--decisions to commit suicide are due to temporary problems, and are tragic mistakes.

For those who are religiously, philosophically, or ethically opposed to suicide under any circumstance, this publication will be of little comfort; those who believe that it is each person's right to decide, insofar as possible, when and how to die may find some answers to their questions and fears.

From the Author: I place suicide attempters in one of four groups: (1) Rational people facing an insoluble problem, generally a fatal or debilitating illness; (2) Impulsive people, frequently young, truly but temporarily miserable, sometimes drunk, who wouldn't even consider suicide six months later; (3) Irrational people, often chronically alcoholic, schizophrenic, or depressed; (4) People trying to make a safe gesture as a "cry for help" or to get someone's attention.

The first group---and most of us will eventually be in it---has, in my view, the right to decide the time, place, and manner of their death. It is clear that a competent person who really wants to kill him- or herself can almost always do so. However, seriously ill or physically impaired people often have both the greatest interest in, and least ability to carry out, suicide. I believe that they ought to have medical help to die peacefully and without pain if they so choose; but this, while sometimes surreptitiously done, cannot at present be relied on.

Many of us have known people who have suffered long, agonizing deaths because they became too ill to kill themselves and their physicians were unwilling to act on their request. I will not mince words by calling it "euthanasia" or "self-deliverance": if you're terminally ill, I hope to provide you with information that will help you determine the best way to kill yourself, if that's your well-considered decision.

What about the young and impulsive, particularly teenagers? At the moment, they seem to have the worst of all worlds, where: (1) lethal and not-so-lethal suicide methods are readily available; (2) neither they, their parents, nor their teachers are likely to know how dangerous particular methods are; (3) personal ("Are you thinking about...?) or practical ("How would you go about...?) discussion of suicide is largely taboo.

While many schools now teach about AIDS and its transmission, many more teenagers will attempt or commit suicide next year than will become HIV-infected. The ignorance, stigma, and fear about suicide would decrease if that topic were added to the curriculum and treated honestly.

What of "irrational" people? They too face a lack of information on suicide methods. Will they sit down and read a book before acting and will they choose more (or less) lethal methods as a result? No one knows. The most relevant data show that in the year after the publication of an earlier suicide-methods book, "Final Exit" there was a small increase in the number of people using the book's recommended methods (from 3477 to 3751), but a small decrease in the overall number of suicides (from 30,906 to 30,810). This is consistent with the notion that "Final Exit" merely shifted the method used by about one percent of suicides; but it can't resolve the possibility that the overall number of suicides would have decreased without the "recommended methods" increase.

As for the fourth group, those trying to carry out a "safe" suicidal gesture, the information in this book can only be beneficial.

A case will be made that people shouldn't commit suicide and that, therefore, a manual telling them how to go about it is pernicious. This is like one of the arguments against sex education: "If they know how, they'll do it." Well, they do it anyway. Thirty thousand suicide deaths a year in the U.S. should make this clear. In the absence of knowledge about suicide methods---and the consequences of failed attempts---people will continue to act in desperation and ignorance, as they have throughout recorded history, with gun, rope, blade, poison, and anything else available. That is the reality. And the methods people use all too often leave them neither dead nor fully recovered, but maimed and permanently injured: paralyzed from jumps, brain-damaged from gunshots, comatose from drugs.

But for anyone considering suicide (or even "safe" suicidal gestures; nothing is 100 percent reliable), I urge you to try every alternative first---and then try them again. These include a variety of anti-depressant drug therapies, various flavors of psychotherapy, electroshock, and "reality therapy"---helping people worse off than you. Each of these will work for some; no single solution will work for everyone. That's why it's vital not to give up if one or two or three don't do much to decrease your pain. How do you know that suicide is the best solution if you haven't tried everything else first? You can always kill yourself later.

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Title: Suicide and Attempted Suicide: Methods and ...
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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