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Myths about Suicide Reprint Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674061989
ISBN-10: 0674061985
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Every one of the million or so people who commit suicide yearly leaves behind not just life but a tangled skein of unanswered questions and myths, to say nothing of loved ones who suffer collateral damage. With the assertion that people who commit suicide hold two psychological mindsets—the perceptions that one is a burden and that one does not belong—psychology professor and suicidologist Joiner tackles many commonly held beliefs and debunks them. For the most part, he builds his arguments on solid ground. For instance, he addresses the popular yet apparently groundless notion that women who have breast-augmentation surgery are at greater risk for suicide. When he is armed with solid logic, facts, and creditable statistics, his arguments are potent. When it comes to interpreting motivations, however, even a professional like Joiner has to qualify many assertions with such phrases as I believe and in my view. Give him points for attempting to clear up this mystifying behavior. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Myths about Suicide seeks to debunk the myriad ways that suicide is stigmatized by ignorance, disgust, contempt, and callousness. (Peter Monaghan Chronicle of Higher Education 2010-04-25)

In this very readable book, Joiner's wide ranging knowledge of the subject leads to deeply penetrating thoughts on the psychology of suicide. He attacks myths from multiple perspectives, drawing on materials from biblical times to the present, scientific research studies and clinical case studies, animal studies, literature, popular culture, and film. The book also advances Joiner's own theory of suicide: people who kill themselves feel that they are a burden to their socially significant others and feel alienated from society. Whether readers are beginning students or advanced researchers, they will find an abundance of stimulating thought and data here. (W. Feigelman Choice 2010-11-01)

When people kill themselves and those left behind are interviewed, they often respond with timeworn phrases, understandably. But such cliches often only spread myths...Joiner doesn't discuss the morality of killing oneself, nor how suicide can sometimes be a reasonable option. Rather, he seeks to spread the truth about suicide while "leaving a healthy fear of it intact." In that way, many lives may be saved and much anguish averted. Joiner's theory is that people desire suicide when they simultaneously hold these two psychological states in their minds for long enough: the perception that one is a burden and the sense that one does not belong. Only a more widespread and accurate understanding of suicide, he insists, can help counteract such states and prevent unnecessary deaths. (Susan K. Perry Psychology Today 2011-07-15)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (November 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674061985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674061989
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

THOMAS JOINER grew up in Georgia, went to college at Princeton, and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Dr. Joiner's work is on the psychology, neurobiology, and treatment of suicidal behavior and related conditions. Author of over 485 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Joiner was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Residency Fellowship. He was elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and received the Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Shakow Award for Early Career Achievement from the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association, the Shneidman Award for excellence in suicide research from the American Association of Suicidology, and the Award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions from the American Psychological Association, as well as research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Defense, and various foundations. He directs the DoD-funded Military Suicide Research Consortium (msrc.fsu.edu).

Dr. Joiner is on the Board of Advisors for the magazine Men's Health. He is editor of the American Psychological Association's Clinician's Research Digest, editor of the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, and he has authored or edited seventeen books, including Why People Die By Suicide, published in 2005 by Harvard University Press, Myths About Suicide (Harvard, 2010), and The Perversion of Virtue: Understanding Murder-Suicide (Oxford University Press, March 2014). Largely in connection with Why People Die By Suicide, he has made numerous radio, print, and television appearances, including write-ups in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health, and The Times of London, and two appearances on the Dr. Phil Show.

Dr. Joiner is clinically active - he is a licensed clinical psychologist in Florida. He is Director of FSU's University Psychology Clinic. Dr. Joiner provides four-hour workshops on suicidal behavior and mood disorders to nurses, social workers, psychologists and allied health professionals across the U.S. He runs a consulting practice specializing in suicidal behavior, including legal consultation on suits involving death by suicide.

He lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife and two sons.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Joiner has given us another opportunity for deep reflections on the myths related to suicide. If you are sincerely interested in the theory of Dr. Joiner and want to appreciate this book even more, then I suggest reading first his previous book (Why People Die by Suicide, 2007.) There are many myths related to suicide and the merit of Dr. Joiner is not only "to collect" them in one book, but mostly "to explain" why these myths are still perceived as "the truth" and "to present" the "anti-myths" by supporting them with reliable research. In addition, Dr. Joiner builds his counterarguments using his theory and what strikes the readers' attention is the "simplicity" with which he explains his view. His writing is simple and direct; he is able to connect myths, false beliefs, research and antimyths as my grandmother was able to mix together all the ingredients for the perfect Sunday sauce......it looked simple but almost impossible to replicate. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in accurate information about suicide delivered to you by one of the best suicidologist in the world.

PS: I am Italian so I can certify that Bellagio is located in Italy and "not only" in Las Vegas (see pag.281.) If you still do not believe me visit [...].
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Format: Hardcover
The title of this book caught my eye and my curiosity. What an excellent read. The research is extremely well documented! My major in college was psychology, but, one does not have to be well versed to understand this book. The "layman" can understand just as well as any psychologist. And for those in the psychiatric field, I highly recommend this book.

I have been affected by suicide myself. After many attempts, my best friend ended her life six years ago. There were many times over the course of the book where I found myself a) nodding my head in understanding and b) surprised by what I discovered.

There are so many myths, so many misunderstandings regarding suicide. And, so many assumptions. The prevailing stigma attached to mental disease is so disheartening. One thing that I want anyone reading this review to know : the person who 'left you behind' did not, I repeat did not, do this to punish you in any way.

For those who are considering this book as a way to better understand what happened, I urge you to purchase this. Bear in mind that this book is about suicide itself; it is not a guide to specifically help those who were left behind. Though the knowledge you gain from it might do just that. For myself,
I found it to be very soothing as well as extremely informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Joiner should be commended for his research and study. Most other books frankly leave much to be desired. Please read his first book "Why People Die" before reading his new work. I'm not a sociologist or psych professional but a business professional. I've had over a dozen friends effect "self-deliverence" stemming from "econo-cide" or "divorce-cide" in the past 3 years. All were brillant smart caring and loving people who simply couldn't cope. Dr. Joiner's thesis of connectedness and belonging to a context greater than self is spot on and desreves great praise., especially in today's times where the concept of self-fulfillment has greater context than respondsibility to family, friends and work.

Suicide clearly is not viewed correctly by the media. They will write on auto accidents as a "natural cause of death", but have no manifest to research why mostly males choose to end pain and suffering for the sake of reasons only that respective individual takes with him to eternity.

Dr. Joiner's rearch offers the most clear, brillant and insightful thoughts regarding self-deliverance.

With the most viscious economic climate since the depression and a surge in divorce of long-term marriages, I hope Dr. Joiner's next book tackles these two alarming trends. The cause/effect relationship is there in living color.

Dr. Joiner's work on perception/reality is fascinating in every realm especially in a society like today where intellectual and emotional honesty seems to have been discarded.

For those who have lost a family member or friend due to self-deliverance, you have my honest condolonces. But also please consider what caused their decision.

Dr. Joiner's two works offer the most insightful, well researched and easily read insight into the mind and thought process of those that seek to transition from human existence.

I highly recommend both these excellent titles.
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Format: Paperback
I heard Dr. Joiner interviewed on CBC 'Ideas' hosted by Paul Kennedy. One of my colleagues, a woman who was a best friend for many, many years committed suicide in 2011. Literally and figuratively, her death broke my heart. When I heard Dr. Joiner's interview I ordered a copy of this book and his other book "Why People Commit Suicide". This book arrived first.

Definitely I understand why people commit suicide. I think Dr. Joiner has made an extensive and comprehensive review of the subject. What a painful 'think' it all is. I have to admit, there were times I needed a break from the book. But I finished reading it. As a person deeply and profoundly affected by the loss of someone I believed was as constant as the North Star, Dr. Joiner's work helped with the intellectual understanding.

Probably this book is a 'must read' for healthcare professionals of any type. We all have patients who experience the terrible loss through suicide of a loved one. We must have the courage to learn and to understand and be able to be supportive of those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by suicide.

Dr. Thomas Szasz maintains that a person has the right to choose to end their life. But I'm not sure he has a grasp on the truly terrible effect this has on those left behind.

Thank you, Dr. Joiner. You have done an exceptional job on explaining so people can understand. Intellectual comprehension is at least a great place to start. The emotional fallout is something else again.
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