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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: David C. Clark, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book devotes most of its attention to organizing knowledge about suicidal behavior
Purpose: The author aims to interpret and integrate research on suicidal behavior, particularly motives for suicidal behavior, to provide an encyclopedic reference volume, and to summarize facts everyone should know to optimize suicide prevention efforts. Most books about the problem of suicide fail to achieve the smooth integration of studies and facts exemplified here. There is an important place for books that attempt to synthesize knowledge about suicidal behavior. The volume tends toward shallow coverage of clinical matters, such as the recognition of suicide risk, evaluation of suicide potential, the treatment and management of suicidal patients.
Audience: This book is designed as a general reference resource for the layperson. Medical students may find it useful as an incomplete introduction to the field of suicide. Psychiatric and emergency medicine specialists will find that the book lacks the clinical focus and breadth that might aid them in clinical decision-making. Yet the material covered tends to be authoritative. Dr. Lester is a productive investigator and writer who has made valuable contributions to the field of suicide studies.
Features: The book is a slim, attractive paperback of 195 pages and is organized well. The author provides very thoughtful coverage of a broad range of epidemiological and sociological issues. The index is useful. There are no figures to help the reader digest the fascinating complexity of epidemiological trends, and so the reader is deprived of the great variety of insightful illustrations help orient the newcomer to this field. Each chapter tends to be draw on a number of illustrative references, but many important references do not appear, and some of the epidemiological data is not thoroughly current.
Assessment: In this lucid and far-ranging resource book, Dr. Lester provides the layperson with a marvelous synthesis of knowledge gleaned from a multitude of studies reported over decades. Although the medical professional may not find guidance for making clinical decisions in the volume, the book does constitute an articulate introduction to the broad context of suicidal studies and suicidal behavior and may be useful as a supplement to more psychiatric reference resources.