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Waking Up, Alive Paperback – February 6, 1996

4.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Psychology professor Heckler interviewed 50 attempted suicides for this study of the process of emotional recovery in those who have attempted to kill themselves.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For the attempter, suicide is a solution. But for the loved ones left behind-and by one conservative estimate at least 3.5 million Americans today are survivors of a loved one's suicide-it is an enigma that has to be solved. Director of the Hakomi Institute of San Francisco and a professor of counseling, Heckler examines the events and experiences of people who have attempted and recovered from a suicide and then gone on to lead rewarding and meaningful lives. The author interviewed 50 such individuals and through a representative selection of stories describes their common experiences of loss and subsequent pain. In a sort of anatomy of recovery, Heckler offers sensitive descriptions for each case and applies much of his knowledge of wellness research to the discussions. With their in-depth view of the cycle of events leading to suicide and the recovery, these poignant stories can move any reader toward greater understanding of the suicidal person. Photographer and former teacher Kuklin (Speaking Out: Teenagers Take on Race, Sex, and Identity, Putnam, 1993) focuses on the thoughts and feelings experienced by suicide survivors-defined as not only the person who attempted suicide but also their family and friends. Through a series of vignettes that capture the essence of how each person reacted, two questions asked often by survivors are addressed-Why? and What if? The targeted audience is primarily young adult readers. The issue of suicide is appropriately dealt with on this level by including such related issues as drug and alcohol involvement, responses of classmates and teachers, sexuality, and the stigma of suicide. Other books of merit and interest include George Howe Colt's The Enigma of Suicide (LJ 4/15/91), which provides a more comprehensive perspective on all aspects of suicide, and Cynthia Copeland Lewis's Teen Suicide: Too Young To Die (Enslow, 1994), which provides more comprehensive coverage for the young adult audience. Still, though neither Heckler nor Kuklin are first-choice selections, they deserve a place in all types of libraries since no one book has yet qualified as the definitive and all-purpose source to the phenomenon of suicide. (Photographs not seen for Kuklin's book.)-Dana L. Brumbelow, Auburn P.L., Ala.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1St Edition edition (February 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345400356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345400352
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard A. Heckler, PhD, has worked in the field of psychology for over 35 years, both clinically, and academically in graduate universities. Dr. Heckler's work has been featured on ABC's Good Morning America!, and 20/20, as well as on NPR and many regional radio and TV affiliates. Dr. Heckler wrote Waking Up, Alive, after traveling the country during a three-year period, interviewing people who had attempted suicide and who, through their own hard work and with the collaboration of caregivers, now lead fulfilled, meaningful, and happy lives. This "Anatomy of Recovery," - how people have reclaimed their lives after a suicide attempt, had never been studied before.

Dr. Heckler has published two books, "Waking Up, Alive" and "Crossings", and has devoted his research and career to both understanding the process of change and helping others through profound life transitions.

Owner and Director of the Hakomi Institute of San Francisco, he has trained psychotherapists throughout the U.S. and England in mindfulness-based and somatic psychotherapy, and Buddhist psychology. He served for ten years on the board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center one of the preeminent meditation centers in the world, and is also a professional photographer, specializing in cultural portraiture in Asia and western landscapes. His photographic work can be viewed at RHAlexanderphotography.com

Dr. Heckler lives and works in the San Francisco bay area, and has just completed his first novel.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Having the disorder of depression; and teetering in and out of suicidal thoughts; I went in search of a book which explained what I was going through. After reading several books, I came across this one. THIS IS IT ! It is the ONLY book I have found that "gets it". I have bought 5 copies - one by one - and have loaned them all out to friends and therapists whom I wanted to really understand what I was going through.
This book was almost an obsession....I HAD to keep reading it. It also managed to give me some hope when I didn't think it was possible and wasn't looking for any.
I'd buy a copy to keep for myself, but I can't find one....This one needs to be put back into print ! It may save lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Almost every book about suicide focuses on its causes, often chronicling the final descent of its victims. This heartfelt study does something different and long overdue - it examines the lives of "failed" suicides and lets them describe how they emerged from of the seemingly bottomless darkness that nearly claimed them. Harrowing in its depiction of the pain that fills the suicidal mind, deeply moving in its stories of overcoming that pain and living beyond it, this book is an invaluable resource. By the time you turn the last page, hope will be even more tangible to you than despair. A book that should be kept permanently in print.
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Format: Paperback
Only 6 weeks after my own suicide attempt I read this book in the hope it would help me to understand this enourmous self destruction I had attempted.
This books uses "real" people case stories (ones just like me!)and helped me understand that it wasn't my life I wanted to end but the pain and sufferring I had been enduring. Nothing else I had read put the overwhelming feelings I had experienced in to a readable understandable format.
Richard Heckler went one step further, he gave me hope, as I continued to read, he showed me how other people had restored their lives and returned to life. It was his words that encouraged me to seeks the help I knew I needed. Now 18 months later I have completed my own trip - "The descent to sucide and the return to life".
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Format: Paperback
After losing my brother to suicide a few months ago, this book was recommended to me to gain an understanding of his mental state before he took his life.
The author, Richard Heckler, articulates the suffering of one who is suicidal with great skill and insight. He also demonstrates a deep and clear understanding of the thought processes of those who have suffered long term and chronic pain, disfunction, and significant trauma.
It was with terrible sorrow that I recognized my lost brother in these pages. It was equally painful to find myself in the accounts shared, but I was not left feeling hopeless. Dr. Heckler diligently presents the hopeful possiblity of relief from such despair.
This is a truly wonderful book, written with profound compassion for those who suffer. I would recommend it to anyone who has survived the death by suicide of a loved one, and to those in pain who seek a deeper understanding of themselves.
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Format: Paperback
A few weeks after a failed attempt at suicide, I found this book when searching for some understanding of suicidal feelings. When I read the stories and the quotes of those who have overcome the tempation, I felt that someone really did understand the way the mind narrows to the point where sucide is the only option. I bought copies for those who were surprised, and hurt, by my attempt. If you battle suicidal urges or want to know what it is like to enter the "vortex", I would reccomend this very helpful book. I thank the author and all he interviewed.
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Format: Paperback
I scoured my local library's website several days after being discharged from the hospital after my 2nd failed suicide attempt. I was desperately searching for hope and a reason for living. This book came up in the results. I borrowed the book from the library, and wouldn't return it until I had my own copy. This book changed my entire life! I suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder - Bipolar Type and have gone through many seemingly endless depressions, suicidal thoughts and feelings, and 2 failed suicide attempts. I knew I just couldn't live like that any longer. This book is the ONLY one of its kind. I owe my life and the quality of my life to this author...no joke. It was 2006 when I first read this book. Since then, I have had many depressions. Once in awhile a stray suicidal thought may have crossed my mind. But this book has given me so much hope that I knew I could never act on those thoughts ever again. It introduced me to a whole other perspective, that of the survivors of suicide attempts. Other books about suicide blandly talk about statistics, possible scientific reasons of why suicide happens/exists...this book goes beyond that and recounts at least 50 stories of people who have attempted suicide and survived, and then found hope in their lives, and a renewed reason for living, which is what I was so desperately seeking. This book, combined with my stronger-than-ever-desire to find hope and meaning in life, is what I think helped me to reach the point I am at today...I still suffer from depression at times, but rarely do I get suicidal thoughts. I've made the decision that suicide is NOT an option. This book showed me how I love life; I just don't like the pain and suffering from depression, and when I attempted suicide, I wanted the pain and suffering to stop, but not life. I didn't realize that then. Now I do, and my life is drastically different today that it was in 2006 and earlier. Thank you soooo much, Richard Heckler!!! <3
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