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In the belief that teenage suicide is a preventable health problem, the authors (a therapist and a freelance writer) offer an accessible, composed examination of this troubling phenomenon. They suggest that although there is no typical profile of children who attempt suicide, those who contemplate it tend to show certain behaviors or specific distress signals beforehand which parents can recognize; proper intervention can reverse the course. Giffin and Felsenthal find blocked communication the most commonly shared element in the cases they discuss, and they fault some familiar scape-goats--working mothers in particular--for the rising suicide rate in America today. Their emphasis is generally appropriate (a section on the effect of media coverage of suicides is especially interesting); the format suits the intended non-professional audience; and the citations (from Ordinary People and Donahue transcripts as well as Alvarez, Hendin, and Plath) illuminate rather than pad the text. But statistics are sometimes used loosely or without sufficient documentation (""almost one of every three teens in the United States can be classified as a problem drinker"") and off-the-cuff remarks occasionally intrude upon the more helpful kinds of commentary (""The feminist movement seems to have left us with mothers who are striving to be more like fathers, with fathers who are as inattentive as they've always been, and with children who are definitely left out in the emotional cold""). Informed and satisfactorily organized, but pedestrian overall.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1983
Publisher: Doubleday