The Art of Suicide is a history of the visual representation of suicide from the ancient world to its decriminalization in the 20th century. After looking at instances of voluntary death in ancient Greece, Ron Brown discusses the contrast between the extraordinary absence of such events in early Christianity and the proliferation of images of biblical suicides in the late medieval era. He emphasizes how differing attitudes to suicide in the early modern world slowly merged, and pays particular attention to the one-time chasm between so-called heroic suicide and self-destruction as a "crying crime".
Brown tracks the changes surrounding the perception of suicide into the pivotal Romantic era, with its notions of the "man of feeling", ready to hurl himself into the abyss over a woman or an unfinishable poem. After the First World War, the meaning of death and attitudes towards suicide changed radically, and in time this led to its decriminalization. The 20th century in fact witnessed a growing ambivalence towards suicidal acts, which today are widely regarded either as expressions of a death-wish or as cries for help. Brown concludes with Warhol's picture of Marilyn Monroe and the videos taken by the notorious Dr Kevorkian.
Before Their Time
Mary Stimming Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress HV6545.2.B44 1999 | Dewey Decimal 155.937
Before Their Time is the first work to present adult children survivors' (defined as eighteen or above at the time of the parent's death) accounts of their loss, grief, and resolution following a parent's suicide. In once section, the book offers the perspectives of sons and daughters on the deaths of mothers; in another, the perspectives of sons and daughters on the deaths of fathers. In a third section, siblings reflect on the shared loss of their mother.
Each of these survivors faces the common difficulties associated with losing a loved one by suicide. They also experience difficulties specific to their status as both adult and child. Topics such as the impact of the parent's suicide on adult children's personal and professional choices, marriages and parenting, sibling and surviving parent relationships are explored with sensitivity and insight. Various coping skills, including humor, are described.
The writers describe feelings of regret and responsibility related to their parent's suicide. They express concern about other family members' vulnerability to suicide. They speak openly about the fears and stresses they face and how they cope with them.
The authors ranged in age from nineteen to thirty-six at the time of the parent's death. Between one and twenty-five years have passed since that tragedy.
In addition to the first-person narratives, the book includes a resource section with a national listing of suicide survivor support groups; an overview of existing research on survivors of suicide by John L. McIntosh, past president of the American Association of Suicidology; and an essay on elderly suicide by David C. Clark, secretary-general, International Association for Suicide, and editor-in-chief of Crisis. The book is introduced with a Foreword by Rev. Charles Rubey, founder and director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide.
This book relates the founding in America, and evaluates the effectiveness of, a branch of the worldwide organization of volunteers known as the Samaritans, committed to the prevention of suicide through the simple means of “listening therapy.” Great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Monica Dickens was best known in England as a novelist; in America, as the founder of the U.S. Samaritans. Today Samaritans are in every large city of the country. Volunteers work twenty-four hours a day, answering telephones or meeting troubled people, to try to give them, in nonjudgmental ways, the help they need to get their lives back in order.
The Dark Eclipse is a book of personal essays in which author A.W. Barnes seeks to come to terms with the suicide of his older brother, Mike. Using source documentation—police report, autopsy, suicide note, and death certificate—the essays explore Barnes’ relationship with Mike and their status as gay brothers raised in a large conservative family in the Midwest. In addition, the narrative traces the brothers’ difficult relationship with their father, a man who once studied to be a Trappist monk before marrying and fathering eight children. Because of their shared sexual orientation, Andrew hoped he and Mike would be close, but their relationship was as fraught as the author’s relationship with his other brothers and father. While the rest of the family seems to have forgotten about Mike, who died in 1993, Barnes has not been able to let him go. This book is his attempt to do so.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
To support U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to create a unified, comprehensive strategic plan for suicide prevention research, a RAND study cataloged studies funded by DoD and other entities, examined whether current research maps to DoD’s strategic research needs, and provided recommendations to encourage better alignment and narrow the research-practice gap when it comes to disseminating findings to programs serving military personnel.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide is a study of the phenomenon of suicide in modern and post-modern society as represented in the major fictional works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Walker Percy. In his study, suicide is understood in both a literal and spiritual sense as referring to both the actual suicides in their works and to the broader social malaise of spiritual suicide, or despair. In the 19th century Dostoevsky called suicide “the terrible question of our age”. For his part, Percy understood 20th century Western culture as “suicidal” in both its social, political and military behavior and in the deeper sense that its citizenry had suffered an ontological “loss of self” or “deformation” of being. Likewise, Thomas Merton called the 20th century an “age of suicide”.
An Ideological Death: Suicide in Israeli Literature explores literary challenges to Israel’s national narratives. Many prominent Israeli writers use their fiction to confront the centrality of the army, the mythology of the “new Jew,” the positioning of Tel Aviv as the first Israeli city, and the very process by which a nation’s history is constructed.
Yehudit Katzir, Etgar Keret, Amos Oz, Yaakov Shabtai, Benjamin Tammuz, and A. B. Yehoshua are among the writers who engage with depictions of suicide in a critical and rhetorical process that reconsiders myths at the heart of the Zionist project. In Israeli literature, suicide is linked to a society’s compulsion to create impossible ideals that leave its populace disappointed and deluded. Yet, as Rachel S. Harris shows, even at their harshest these writers also acknowledge the idealism that helped build Israel as a modern nation-state.
Marx on Suicide
Karl Marx Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress HV6545.M276 1999 | Dewey Decimal 362.28
Myths about Suicide
Thomas Joiner Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress HV6545.J648 2010 | Dewey Decimal 362.28
The New Gods
E. M. Cioran University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress BL226.C5613 2013 | Dewey Decimal 210
Dubbed “Nietzsche without his hammer” by literary critic James Wood, the Romanian philosopher E. M. Cioran is known as much for his profound pessimism and fatalistic approach as for the lyrical, raging prose with which he communicates them. Unlike many of his other works, such as On the Heights of Despair and Tears and Saints, The New Gods eschews his usual aphoristic approach in favor of more extensive and analytic essays.
Returning to many of Cioran’s favorite themes, The New Gods explores humanity’s attachment to gods, death, fear, and infirmity, in essays that vary widely in form and approach. In “Paleontology” Cioran describes a visit to a museum, finding the relatively pedestrian destination rife with decay, death, and human weakness. In another chapter, Cioran explores suicide in shorter, impressionistic bursts, while “The Demiurge” is a shambolic exploration of man’s relationship with good, evil, and God. All the while, The New Gods reaffirms Cioran’s belief in “lucid despair,” and his own signature mixture of pessimism and skepticism in language that never fails to be a pleasure. Perhaps his prose itself is an argument against Cioran’s near-nihilism: there is beauty in his books.
Charlotte Salomon's (1917-43) fantastical autobiography, Life? or Theater?, consists of 769 sequenced gouache paintings, through which the artist imagined the circumstances of the eight suicides in her family, all but one of them women. But Salomon's focus on suicide was not merely a familial idiosyncrasy. Nothing Happenedargues that the social history of early-twentieth-century Germany has elided an important cultural and social phenomenon by not including the story of German Jewish women and suicide. This absence in social history mirrors an even larger gap in the intellectual history of deeply gendered suicide studies that have reproduced the notion of women's suicide as a rarity in history. Nothing Happenedis a historiographic intervention that operates in conversation and in tension with contemporary theory about trauma and the reconstruction of emotion in history.
The history of slavery in early America is a history of suicide. On ships crossing the Atlantic, enslaved men and women refused to eat or leaped into the ocean. They strangled or hanged themselves. They tore open their own throats. In America, they jumped into rivers or out of windows, or even ran into burning buildings. Faced with the reality of enslavement, countless Africans chose death instead.
In The Power to Die, Terri L. Snyder excavates the history of slave suicide, returning it to its central place in early American history. How did people—traders, plantation owners, and, most importantly, enslaved men and women themselves—view and understand these deaths, and how did they affect understandings of the institution of slavery then and now? Snyder draws on ships’ logs, surgeons' journals, judicial and legislative records, newspaper accounts, abolitionist propaganda and slave narratives, and many other sources to build a grim picture of slavery’s toll and detail the ways in which suicide exposed the contradictions of slavery, serving as a powerful indictment that resonated throughout the Anglo-Atlantic world and continues to speak to historians today.
For much of his thirties, Jesse Bering thought he was probably going to kill himself. He was a successful psychologist and writer, with books to his name and bylines in major magazines. But none of that mattered. The impulse to take his own life remained. At times it felt all but inescapable.
Bering survived. And in addition to relief, the fading of his suicidal thoughts brought curiosity. Where had they come from? Would they return? Is the suicidal impulse found in other animals? Or is our vulnerability to suicide a uniquely human evolutionary development? In Suicidal, Bering answers all these questions and more, taking us through the science and psychology of suicide, revealing its cognitive secrets and the subtle tricks our minds play on us when we’re easy emotional prey. Scientific studies, personal stories, and remarkable cross-species comparisons come together to help readers critically analyze their own doomsday thoughts while gaining broad insight into a problem that, tragically, will most likely touch all of us at some point in our lives. But while the subject is certainly a heavy one, Bering’s touch is light. Having been through this himself, he knows that sometimes the most effective response to our darkest moments is a gentle humor, one that, while not denying the seriousness of suffering, at the same time acknowledges our complicated, flawed, and yet precious existence.
Authoritative, accessible, personal, profound—there’s never been a book on suicide like this. It will help you understand yourself and your loved ones, and it will change the way you think about this most vexing of human problems.
A suicide scandal in Shanghai reveals the social fault lines of democratic visions in China’s troubled Republic in the early 1920s.
On September 8, 1922, the body of Xi Shangzhen was found hanging in the Shanghai newspaper office where she worked. Although her death took place outside of Chinese jurisdiction, her US–educated employer, the social activist Tang Jiezhi, was kidnapped by Chinese authorities and put on trial. As scandal rocked the city, novelists, filmmakers, suffragists, reformers, and even a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party seized upon the case as emblematic of deeper social problems. Xi’s family claimed that Tang had pressured her to be his concubine; his conviction instead for financial fraud only stirred further controversy.
The creation of a republic ten years earlier had unleashed a powerful vision of popular sovereignty and a view of citizenship founded upon science, equality, and family reform. But, Bryna Goodman shows, after the suppression of the first Chinese parliament, efforts at urban liberal democracy dissolved in a flash of speculative finance and the suicide of an educated, working “new woman.” In yet another blow, Tang’s trial exposed the frailty of legal mechanisms in a political landscape fragmented by warlords and enclaves of foreign colonial rule.
The Suicide of Miss Xi opens a window onto how urban Chinese in the first part of the twentieth century navigated China’s early passage through democratic populism, in an ill-fated moment of possibility between empire and party dictatorship. Xi Shangzhen became a symbol of the failures of the Chinese Republic as well as the broken promises of citizen’s rights, gender equality, and financial prosperity betokened by liberal democracy and capitalism.
The death of Meriwether Lewis is one of the great mysteries of American history. Was he murdered at Grinder’s Stand or did he commit suicide? Vardis Fisher meticulously reconstructs the events and presents his own version of the case with the precision and persuasiveness of a fine trial lawyer. But Fisher was also a great novelist and it is his sense of character that serves him best here. We know Lewis’ complex sensibility as well as we know that of any man of his time — his Journals are so self-revealing, so exacting in the record they make of his musings, doubts, and elations. Fisher offers us this complex Lewis and, with equal perceptiveness, sets the rough, frontier scene at Grinder’s Stand. The result is a fine mystery, well solved, that leans toward tragedy.
A review of the scientific evidence on suicide postvention (organizational responses to prevent additional suicides and help loss survivors cope), guidance for other types of organizations, and the perspectives of the family and friends of service members who have died by suicide provide insights that may help the U.S. Department of Defense formulate its own policies and programs in a practical and efficient way.
It is common to think of the Arctic as remote, perched at the farthest reaches of the world—a simple and harmonious, isolated utopia. But the reality, as Janne Flora shows us, is anything but. In Wandering Spirits, Flora reveals how deeply connected the Arctic is to the rest of the world and how it has been affected by the social, political, economic, and environmental shifts that ushered in the modern age.
In this innovative study, Flora focuses on Inuit communities in Greenland and addresses a central puzzle: their alarmingly high suicide rate. She explores the deep connections between loneliness and modernity in the Arctic, tracing the history of Greenland and analyzing the social dynamics that shaped it. Flora’s thorough, sensitive engagement with the families that make up these communities uncovers the complex interplay between loneliness and a host of economic and environmental practices, including the widespread local tradition of hunting. Wandering Spirits offers a vivid portrait of a largely overlooked world, in all its fragility and nuance, while engaging with core anthropological concerns of kinship and the structure of social relations.
We Shall Be No More
Richard Bell Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HV6548.U5B45 2012 | Dewey Decimal 362.280973
Though suicide is an individual act, Richard Bell reveals its broad social implications in early America. From Revolution to Reconstruction, everyone—parents, newspapermen, ministers and abolitionists alike—debated the meaning of suicide as a portent of danger or of possibility in a new nation struggling to define itself and its power.
Drawing on extensive clinical and epidemiological evidence, as well as personal experience, Thomas Joiner provides the most coherent and persuasive explanation ever given of why and how people overcome life's strongest instinct, self-preservation. He tests his theory against diverse facts about suicide rates among men and women; white and African-American men; anorexics, athletes, prostitutes, and physicians; members of cults, sports fans, and citizens of nations in crisis.