The U.S. purportedly has at least 80 suicides per day, with many times that number in failed attempts. Life staffer Colt attributes the alarming rise in adolescent suicides to multiple factors including drugs, loneliness, divorce, rootlessness, increased competition and the threat of global suicide hanging over us all. The most comprehensive, illuminating look at suicide to date, this monumental survey begins with an account of ``suicide clusters'' that shook Plano, Texas in 1983 and a tri-county area around New York City in 1984. Poignant case histories underscore the fact that ``even to trained suicidologists, clues are often recognizable only in retrospect.'' Surveying the history of suicide from ancient Egypt to U.S. inner cities, Colt demonstrates that the way a culture judges suicide depends largely on that culture's view of death. After discussing the moral and legal issues raised by right-to-die advocates, he explores contemporary suicide prevention, including treatment centers, hot lines, survivor groups and unprecedented classroom efforts to educate students about suicide. (Apr.)
Written by a writer for Life magazine, this well-researched book covers all aspects of suicide, including its social, cultural, and legal history; the biological and psychological research available; attempts at prevention; the right-to-die movement; and the effects on survivors. Interspersing interviews with factual information, the author provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the study of suicide, and points out that for some people suicide may be the only choice. Some of the stories are depressing, but this book will probably be comforting to survivors who are trying to make sense of why their loved ones succumbed to this dreaded persuasion. Recommended for most libraries.-- Lucy Patrick, Florida State Univ. Lib., Tallahassee
When former Life magazine reporter George Howe Colt set out to write a memoir on behalf of his 100-year-old summer house, he knew the old cottage had a story to tell. What he couldn't have known was that the resulting book, The Big House, would garner him a 2003 National Book Award nomination for nonfiction.
George Howe Colt is a former staff writer at Life magazine whose articles have been published in The New York Times, Civilization, and Mother Jones, among other publications. The author of The Enigma of Suicide, a critically acclaimed work of nonfiction, he lives with his family in rural western Massachusetts.
Author biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.