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Why Suicide?: Questions and Answers About Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Coping with the Suicide of Someone You Know

Eric Marcus

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ISBN 10: 0062003917 / ISBN 13: 9780062003911
Published by HarperOne, 2010
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Why Suicide?: Questions and Answers About ...

Publisher: HarperOne

Publication Date: 2010

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: New

Edition: Revised, Updated ed.

About this title


In our lifetimes 85 percent of us will have some up-close experience with the suicide of someone we know.  And more than 20 percent of us will have a family member die by suicide.  Journalist Eric Marcus knows this better than most people.  In 1970, his father took his life at the age of 44.  In 2008, his 49-year-old sister-in-law took her life as well.

In a completely revised and updated edition of the landmark original WHY SUICIDE?, Eric Marcus offers thoughtful answers to scores of questions about this complex, painful issue from how to recognize the signs of someone who is suicidal to strategies for coping in the aftermath of a loved one's death.  

No matter what the circumstances, those of us who are affected by suicide are left with difficult and disturbing questions:

* Why did they do it?
* Was it my fault?
* What should I tell people when they ask what happened?
* Is someone who attempts suicide likely to try again?
* What should I do if I'm thinking of killing myself?

Drawing from his own experience, as well as interviews with people who have been touched by suicide, Eric Marcus cuts through the veil of silence and misunderstanding to bring clarity, reassurance, and comfort to those who so desperately need it.

From the Author:

* Why did you write Why Suicide? 
When I started work on the original edition of Why Suicide? in 1987, I knew that I wanted to write the kind of book that I wish had been available to my mother when my father killed himself in 1970 so she would have known what to say a traumatized twelve-year-old boy.  I also wanted to write the kind of book that would have been useful to me when I was 21 and just beginning to talk with a therapist about my dad's suicide.  I had so many questions and didn't have a lot of answers.  And I wanted to write the kind of book I could hand to my grandmother, who struggled for the rest of her life after my dad's death with guilt and shame over his suicide. When I wrote the book I also assumed that many people searching for answers about suicide have a short attention span like I do and preferred concise answers to their questions, which is why I wrote the book in a question and answer format and kept it short.

By the time I started work on the new edition of Why Suicide? in 2009, I'd unfortunately had more experience with suicide:  my mother threatened suicide and had to be hospitalized and my sister-in-law attempted suicide and later went on to kill herself. Her shocking death was the inspiration for this new edition. So this second time around I had additional readers in mind.  Why Suicide? now has a stronger focus on suicide prevention and the experiences of those who have lived through the suicide of someone they know. Also, I like to think I approached the subject with more compassion and understanding than I did the first time, especially when it comes to dealing with people who are suicidal and the challenges of trying to help a suicidal person who doesn't want help, which was very much the case with my late sister-in-law.

* Who is the book for?
Why Suicide? is for anyone searching for answers about the subject of suicide, whether they're wrestling with their own thoughts of suicide, dealing with a loved one who is suicidal or has attempted suicide, or is trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a suicide.  It's a basic introductory book that covers just about every possible question someone might have and I thread my own experiences and the stories of the people I interviewed through the entire book so that every reader should find a person and/or experience she or he can relate to.  It's a book that will be of special interest to anyone who has lived through the suicide of a loved one because I devote fully half the book to that subject in a chapter called "Surviving Suicide:  Coping with the Suicide of Someone You Know."

* What did you learn while working on the book?
I knew very little about suicide when I started researching the book, so I learned a lot.  For example, I quickly learned that my experience wasn't unique.  More than three quarters of all Americans will be touched at some point in their lives by suicide, whether it's the suicide of a friend, colleague, or family member.  But there's so much shame around suicide and so much stigma when it comes to talking about it that most people remain silent.  

I also learned that when it comes to theories about suicide, whether we're talking about explanations for why suicide rates are increasing or decreasing for a specific age group or why there are more suicides during the week than on the weekend, there is often conflicting information.  There's still a lot we don't know.  But above all, the most important thing I learned was that I wasn't alone, which was a huge comfort.  I thought that talking to other people who had been through the suicide of a loved one would be very, very difficult for me.  And while it was often upsetting, there was something comforting about talking with people who had been through a similar experience.  

--Eric Marcus

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