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Why Suicide?: Questions and Answers About Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Coping with the Suicide of Someone You Know Revised, Updated ed. Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0062003911
ISBN-10: 0062003917
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[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?!'" 
--Judy Collins

"A marvelous addition to suicidology collections as well as a solid choice for bibliotherapy; it should find a place in every public library collection."
--Library Journal

“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? 
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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Revised, Updated ed. edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062003917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062003911
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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"I'm very sorry for the shock I know my death will be for you. But it is much better that you remember me as you last saw me rather than some drooling idiot in an old people's home. I really am beginning to lose my faculties at an alarming rate, so if I did not end things now, I'm afraid I would become a costly, troublesome and unrecognizable burden. Besides, I'm not getting much out of life since Barbara [his wife] died--I'm tired of my dreary life as it presently is; it's pretty empty; I can't seem to get interested in all the activities you have so kindly suggested."

The above is the first paragraph of a suicide note left by a father to his daughter. It comes from this fantastically informative book by Eric Marcus. Marcus is a journalist and author. (His father and sister-in-law both committed suicide in 1970 and 2008 respectively. As well, in 2000 his mother told him that she was going to kill herself.)

The greatest strength of this book is that it is in question and answer format. Thus, it is a very practical book where you can pick and choose the questions you want answers too. (I read this book from cover to cover.)

What was Marcus' goal in writing this book? Here are his exact words:

"To create a resource that would be easy to read, easy to digest, and not overwhelming in details or length."

In my opinion, Marcus has achieved his goal admirably.

This book is divided into sections. Their titles (with the number of questions answered in each section) are as follows:

(1) The basics (61)
(2) How?
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This is a good book for anyone wanting to understand suicide. Suicide is one of the mysteries that most people chalk up to mental illness. Many people, however, do not show any signs of mental illness and complete suicide anyway. I would recommend this book and one other, Touched by Suicide, Hope and Healing After Loss' by Michael F. Myers, M.D. and Carla Fine. Having lost a loved one to suicide, both of these books were extremly helpful to me.
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This book is well-written and informative and effectively uses the questions and answers format as a way to discuss many aspects of suicide. Eric Marcus sensitively presents the subject and draws on his own experiences with suicide to inform the reader. This updated edition has the latest studies and statistics on suicide in the United States. The last chapter is a frank and helpful discussion of coping with the suicide of someone close to you. Highly recommended.
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I read this book in an older edition in 1990 when I was 14. A close friend committed suicide and they distributed this book at my school. It helped immensely. I recommend this book to anyone who is suffering because of the loss of a loved one to suicide. I also recommend this book to anyone considering suicide. Suicide is one of the most selfish acts one could commit. The pain of losing someone to suicide is so deep that 16 yrs later remembering my friend's choice still brings tears to my eyes.
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