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Why People Die by Suicide
     

Why People Die by Suicide

4.5 6
by Thomas JOINER
 

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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;

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Reviewer: Steve C. Lee, MD(Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This ambitious presentation of Thomas Joiner's theory on suicide contains ample citations of the current literature as well as personal insights.
Purpose: The author's aim is to provide a unifying theory explaining why certain people die by suicide. He highlights the pressing need for a deeper understanding of suicide by referring to known epidemiological data and also by sharing the personal toll of losing his father to suicide.
Audience: This book will appeal to both mental health professionals and lay persons who have a personal interest in the topic of suicide. It is clear that the book is a product of the author's passionate life work. His expertise is evident through his own studies in addition to his knowledge of the available body of literature.
Features: The introduction draws one into the aftermath of the suicide of the author's father. It proceeds to survey the current state of knowledge regarding suicide. He then synthesizes a theory whereby completed suicide is the product of an interaction between perceived burdensomeness, failed sense of belonging, and the acquired ability to enact lethal self-injury. This theory is subjected to testing by examples in the real world. His theory is a psychological one and he does a commendable job summarizing what is known genetically and biologically from the psychiatric literature. He also presents practical implications for further research and screening and treatment options.
Assessment: Thomas Joiner has produced an impressive book that can engage professional and lay person alike. Intellectual prowess merges with an impeccable writing style unlike anything I've seen in the mental health literature. It is worthy of nonfiction bestseller status. But more importantly, it may provide windows of opportunity to prevent suicides by enlightening one's intuitive sense of the motivation and experience of suicidal people.
Newsday

[Joiner's] theory is the most comprehensive yet put forth to explain why some people end their lives. Joiner offers a dizzying array of studies to shore up his argument, and some of the evidence he offers is quite novel for the lay reader.
Philip Connors

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Florida State University psych professor, who grew up here and endured the suicide of his father not far from their Atlanta home, asserts that suicide is not simply an act but a process. Joiner describes how a person works up to suicide by overcoming the fear of death and the instinct for self-preservation. In accessible, somber prose, he also explains the conditions under which a person becomes suicidal.
Lawrence Wright

Wall Street Journal

Mr. Joiner's book is a useful guide to suicidal behavior...Mr. Joiner draws on many scientific fields--genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry, evolutionary psychology--all of which, he thinks, have something to offer the study of suicide. The major lesson of his book is the necessity of keeping the ability to commit suicide from coinciding with the desire for death...His book is a practical study, full of up-to-the-minute research.
Thomas Meaney

Boston Globe

It is the synergy and tension between Joiner's dual identity as suicide survivor and academic that imbues this book with both its power and a certain logical grandiosity...Joiner is to be commended for a powerful effort to integrate science and personal tragedy. In an easily digestible style, he reviews the breadth of modern suicide scholarship--biological, psychological, and social, and presents his integration clearly and forcefully.
J. Michael Bostwick

The Times

The change in the way I now look at my dad's death comes because of [this] compelling book.
Steve Martin

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Book Reviews

Many researchers and clinicians have tried to explain why people commit suicide. The majority of studies that have been conducted to date have examined correlates and risk factors for suicidal behavior. However, many of these risk factors are found throughout the general population, and the vast majority of people do not engage in suicidal behavior. Dr. Joiner's theory is one of the first that integrates many of these risk factors into an explanatory model. His model makes sense both intuitively and empirically. What makes Dr. Joiner's theory particularly credible is the research that he and his students have done to support his model. Additionally, he is able to use his theory to explain such diverse behaviors as the suicide attacks on 9/11 and Kurt Cobain's suicide. What makes this book particularly interesting is that it begins with a prologue detailing Dr. Joiner's personal account of loss by suicide...This book is a must-read for clinicians and researchers who are involved with suicidal patients. Dr. Joiner's model highlights the acute risk factors for serious suicidal behavior thus providing tangible targets for assessment and treatment. Additionally this volume is an excellent resource for family members who have lost a loved one to suicide...Based upon the book's combination of sound scientific research with thoughtful personal reflections and examples it is given a strong recommendation.
Elizabeth L. Jeglic

Library Journal
Guggenheim Award winner Joiner (psychology, Florida State Univ.) provides a fascinating contribution to psychological literature that is certain to join the ranks of mile Durkheim's Suicide and Karl Menninger's Man Against Himself. Not only has Joiner established professional prominence in suicidology, but he also has a profound personal relationship with the subject: his own father died by suicide. Drawing on the pain of this experience as well as on clinical and epidemiological evidence, Joiner has managed to conduct significant research into why some people die by suicide, while others survive their attempts at self-annihilation. His persuasive thesis is that practice, mental and physical, is what separates the completers from the attempters. In particular, those who have become desensitized to physical pain are most likely to orchestrate their own deaths successfully. Joiner also identifies perceived burdensomeness, little sense of belonging, genetics, neurobiology, and mental disorders as contributors to suicidality and completion. Akin to Kay Redfield Jamison's superb Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, this book is strongly recommended for all university and public library collections.-Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The Times
The change in the way I now look at my dad's death comes because of [this] compelling book.
— Steve Martin

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674039209
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
06/30/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
830,316
File size:
361 KB

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

Joiner provides an elegant description of what leads people to commit suicide and what professionals, families, and friends can do to prevent the crisis that this tragedy creates for everyone involved.
Carla Fine
As a survivor, I find this book to be illuminating, informative, and, most of all, healing. Joiner searches for the "why" of suicide as both a scientist and a survivor himself, and his research and insights help us to make sense of the pain and confusion that led our loved ones to end their lives.
Carla Fine, author of No Time To Say Goodbye: Surviving The Suicide Of A Loved One
Pauline Boss
In a book both personal and scientific, Thomas Joiner gives us the deepest understanding of suicide that has yet been written. He reminds us that to go on living we need to feel that we belong to someone and that we are effective. But he adds a surprising third factor--we must not break down our fear of death. Joiner offers wise guidance not only to professionals, but to those who must live on after this kind of death in the family.
Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss
Aaron T. Beck
Joiner provides an elegant description of what leads people to commit suicide and what professionals, families, and friends can do to prevent the crisis that this tragedy creates for everyone involved.
Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

Meet the Author

Thomas Joiner is Distinguished Research Professor and Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and author of Why People Die by Suicide.

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Why People Die by Suicide 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
BurdyBlue More than 1 year ago
This is the most informative and personal book you could ever read if you have lost a loved one to suicide. It is compassionate, illuminating, and brings peace of mind to one who has lost a loved one like this and feels lost oneself. There are some important questions posed in Dr. Joiner's book and solid answers based on sound research. It makes sense out of a very disturbing fact in our society--some people lose the perseverance to go on. Dr. Joiner's personal journey with suicide and the determination to shed light on the behavior is cathartic. Thank you, Dr. Joiner.
Lynn_C_Tolson More than 1 year ago
The author of Why People Die by Suicide has both a personal and professional passion for the topic. Thomas Joiner is a professor of psychology at Florida State University, and is the son of a man who committed suicide. He uses his scientific training to develop a theory to determine why people die by suicide. Dr. Joiner explores what reasons people may have to deliberately die, an act that goes against the universal instinct to preserve life. The most accepted view of suicide from those who study it suggests that suicide is hate or aggression turned inward. Another theory states that "psychache" (general psychological and emotional pain that reaches intolerable intensity) leads one to suicide. Even laypersons know that this is not enough of an answer to the question, Why? Elements such as genetics must be included. Joiner examines the concepts of "perceived burdensomeness" and "failed sense of belongingness." He also considers the possibility that those who die by suicide work up to the act. As a suicidologist, Joiner hopes to provide an understanding of death by suicide. This book is recommended for those who want an understanding of suicide from a clinical point of view. Although Joiner shares his personal journey as a survivor of his father's suicide, the style of the book is academic. If intellectual stimulation on the subject is what you are seeking, then the book is well worth reading.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Nursing student and a teacher of mine recommended this book. I have not yet finished it, however, it it very captivating. Joiner does a great job looking at how relevent depression is. I say to anyone who has any interest with depression on any level, this is an appropriate and interesting book to read.