"[In this] well-researched, encyclopedic compendium... written in a crisp Q&A format, Eric Marcus has provided the ultimate distillation of what experts know about the thorny issue of suicide."
-- Leroy Aarons, The Advocate
"I opened this book and said, 'Where was this when I needed it?!'"
"A marvelous addition to suicidology collections as well as a solid choice for bibliotherapy; it should find a place in every public library collection."
“A must-read book for anyone whose life has been touched by suicide. It’s compassionate, informative, and heartfelt. Do yourself a favor and start the healing with this splendid book!” (Dear Abby)
“It would have been such a comfort to have read this book after I lost my husband Edgar to suicide.” (Joan Rivers)
“This book is a must have.” (Surviving Suicide, a publication of the American Association of Suicidology)
From the Author
* Why did you write Why Suicide?
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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.