Suicidology: Essays in Honor of Edwin S. Shneidman

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Antoon A. Leenaars
Aronson, 1993 - Right to die - 418 pages
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This book is a representation of the current state of our understanding of suicide and the practice of suicide prevention. Part I outlines suicidology's history and development. It consists of four chapters: an outline of the evolution of contemporary suicidology as a professional career, a look at suicidology of one hundred years ago, a close examination of the definitions of suicide, and an examination of the political culture and public policy choices in suicidology. Currently in the Western world, suicide is a conscious act of self-induced annihilation, best understood as a multidimensional malaise in a needful individual who defines an issue for which suicide is perceived as the best solution. To understand this self-induced annihilation, one should also understand violence. Part II presents four chapters: an explication of violence and its legacy, the role of trauma and violence in subsequent suicidal behavior, homicide with specific reference to elderly Anglo females, and terrorism and hostage taking. The very person who takes his/her life may be least aware of the psychological reasons for doing so. Part III consists of a study of unconscious processes in suicide, and an explication of the confusions of the body, self, and others in suicidal states. Mental health clinicians must deal with suicide in the lives of many people across various ages. Part IV presents an essay on suicidal children, identifying these youngsters as having serious developmental problems, and a review of adolescent suicidal behavior. Various approaches to knowledge are encouraged in suicidology. Part V consists of a review of the literature, exemplified by two cases: an outline of the psychological autopsyin forensic suicidology and the explication of a suicide's videotape, addressing the question, "When someone commits suicide, who is responsible?" The intense personal study of suicidal lives is also necessary. Part VI consists of the careful study of the medical records of Adolf Hitler, and an examination through newly found documents of the sub-intended death of Herman Melville. Cultural elements in the suicidal event must also be understood. Part VII presents a view of Japanese suicide and recent trends of suicide and its prevention in Japan. The saga of suicide does not end with death. Survivors of suicide often need professional attention. Part VIII presents what happens to the significant others who remain behind after the suicidal death, and a study of the lives of the survivors of suicide of ninety-three New York City policemen who killed themselves between 1934 and 1940. Is suicide of the terminally ill the same as other suicides? Death with dignity, euthanasia, assisted suicide, planned death are all forms that describe such a death. Part IX examines the right to die and its consideration from the different cultural perspectives of the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States.

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