SUICIDE AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE by Geo Stone

SUICIDE AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE

Methods and Consequences
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is essentially a guide on how to commit suicide, or alternatively, stage a “safe” suicidal gesture. Stone (who has studied pharmacology at George Washington University Medical School and the National Institutes of Health) offers little background—personal, occupational, educational, familial, religious, or otherwise—which might help readers absorb this work into some kind of useful discussion. Stone does set out his basic premises: first, that it is each person’s right to make decisions concerning his own death, and second, that most decisions to commit suicide “are due to temporary problems and are therefore tragic mistakes.” Stone goes on, in a pragmatic, almost cold-blooded, tone to set out an immense amount of information on suicide and attempted suicide. He delineates four groups of people who attempt to kill themselves: rational people facing an insoluble problem, usually fatal illness; those acting on impulse, temporarily miserable—and often drunk; those who are irrational due to depression, schizophrenia, or alcoholism; and those who are making a desperate bid for attention or help. Stone also looks at issues around terminal illness and euthanasia. In Part II, he explains the following methods of killing oneself: asphyxia, cutting and stabbing, drowning, drugs, chemicals, poisons, electrocution, gunshot, strangulation, hypothermia, and jumping. He includes explicit instructions on how to go about each method, and what the likely physiological damage will be if the attempt fails. Difficult as all this is to take in, there is more—information on how to make a relatively safe suicidal gesture will certainly confound readers, as will descriptions of autopsy results and asides on the strange and various ways people hurt themselves. The technical information here is accurate. But to approach such a stunningly painful, morally loaded, politically hot subject constructively, we need more than information. We need to know who our guide is, how he has come to this place, how and why his view was formed.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7867-0492-6
Page count: 416pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999




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