"WAKING UP, ALIVE: The Descent, the Attempt and the Return to Life After Suicide" by Richard A. Heckler

"WAKING UP, ALIVE: The Descent, the Attempt and the Return to Life After Suicide"

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A dramatic demystification of suicide from detailed accounts of failed suicide attempts, their circumstances, and their aftermaths. Therapist and psychology professor Heckler (John F. Kennedy Univ.) interviews 50 people, ranging from teenagers to septuagenarians, mechanics to physicians. What these people share is their ability to live meaningful lives after having failed in their suicide attempts. Heckler opens with an analysis of the most common preludes to suicide. In their own words, his subjects reveal the devastating effects of traumatic loss, extreme family dysfunction, and alienation. As each of their stories unfolds, the critical elements in the suicidal urge become identifiable. Early unresolved pain compounded by present adversity is a chief precursor of suicide. Many of the interviewees relate early experiences of loss and trauma -- such as the death of a parent or sexual abuse -- that they were not able to mourn: They were experts at putting up a facade. But once this facade could no longer be maintained, many of those interviewed fell into a state that Heckler identifies as the ""suicidal trance."" At this stage, suicide seems a logical option -- almost an imperative. It becomes the only sensible way to both gain control and kill the pain. But when suicide attempts fail, survivors are forced to face the reality of their self-abuse and the crisis that they were trying to ""resolve."" In addition to grappling with the more recent calamity, Heckler's interviewees underwent a grieving process in which their original pain finally surfaced and could then be dealt with. ""Grieving actually represents the successful beginning of resolving one's past,"" he writes. The catharsis of their suicide attempts were so powerful, in fact, that many of the survivors have moved on to success in helping and counseling professions. A bibliography and resource list round out the volume. Revealing and inspiring.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Grosset/Putnam