by David Lester, Ph.D.
The Charles Press, 1997
Review by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on Sep 8th 1998
As the author notes in the preface, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in America today, ending over 30,000 lives prematurely. In this book, Lester explores the reasons why people take their own lives. It gives the reader a much better understanding of why some people engage in suicidal behavior, as well as everything we currently know about what causes this kind of behavior. The book is divided up into 20 chapters, covering topics such as aggression and suicide, personality and suicide, the social context of suicide, how a suicidal person thinks, drugs and alcohol and their relationship to suicidal behavior, mental illness and suicide, and the meaning of various kinds of suicidal communications, among others. Specific research findings are found throughout and research references end each chapter. A good background text on suicide, the author expands on the many theories and describes the existing research with good coverage and depth. The book, however, may lack the kind of specific interventions clinicians and interested others would like to know. Only the final chapter deals with techniques on how to prevent suicide.