Gr 7-10-Kuklin attempts to support survivors in confronting the social stigma and isolation that suicide engenders; hopes to convince young people that killing themselves is not the solution to their problems; and urges teens who suspect that someone they know is at risk to talk with that person about it. The introduction traces historical attitudes toward suicide. Part one consists of interviews with surviving siblings, parents, classmates, teachers, and counselors. Part two offers powerful interviews with two young men who were deeply depressed and survived suicide attempts. Both now lead positive and constructive lives. An addendum that describes the work of a volunteer hotline is realistic but upbeat. The black-and-white photographs are of high quality and are natural complements to the well-organized, well-written text. The further reading list includes fiction as well as nonfiction. Many books on teen suicide discuss aspects of the effects on survivors, but Kuklin's is the only one that considers their predicament so thoroughly, sympathetically, and intelligently. A valuable companion to Bernard Frankel and Rachel Kranz's Straight Talk About Teenage Suicide (Facts on File, 1994), Cynthia Copeland Lewis's Teen Suicide (Enslow, 1994), Margaret Hyde and Elizabeth Forsythe's Suicide (Watts, 1991), and Sandra Gardner and Gary Rosenberg's Teenage Suicide (S.&S., 1991).-Libby K. White, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Turning to the emotional issues involved in suicide survival, Kuklin focuses not simply on people whose attempts to kill themselves fail, but also on friends and family left behind when a death attempt succeeds. With artless candor, "survivors" who've lost loved ones (mostly older YAs, some college age), explain the obvious as well as the many subtl
ways their lives have been altered by death: the shock, the stigma, the loss of trust and self-esteem, and the guilt of not knowing or helping enough. Careful not to ignore the complex issues that prompt suicide, Kuklin also includes the words of two people who courted death (one who struggled with substance abuse, another with sexual orientation) as well as a mock-up of a conversation that took place on a suicide hotline. As usual, her editorial hand is light (she has left in the harsh language and raw sentiment), yet firmly directed. There is a sense that healing is possible, but readers will find the riveting detail and candor of the accounts more impressive than images of recovery; the surprisingly rocky road for people left behind is clearly and sympathetically revealed, as is the wrenching torment of those whose lives have spun out of control.