THE CASE AGAINST SUICIDE by William V. Rauscher

THE CASE AGAINST SUICIDE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not so much a case as a strangled cry, ""DON'T DO IT!"" Canon Rauscher brings to this perennial, painful issue a deep interest in suicide and the traditional Christian teaching that it's terribly wrong--but that's about all he brings. There's very little shape, structure, or progression to his argument. He piles on disconnected anecdotes (e.g., lists of rich and famous people who took their own lives, from Eli Black to Ethel Du Pont Warren), throws in a few statistics (30,000 Americans commit suicide every year), quotes all sorts of authorities, pro (Thomas Szasz) and con (Karl Menninger), and generally works himself into a state of high moral agitation. But unless the reader shares Rauscher's belief in the afterlife, many of his points will seem rather feeble. Rauscher makes a great deal of reports (or fantasies) about the Beyond from spiritualists, who claim that the ""astral shells"" of suicides have a bad time of it. But if you're not deterred by fear of hell (a subject Rauscher kind-heartedly skirts) or some lesser post-mortem misery, you'll probably find his warnings hollow. And his insistence that suicide is always a self-centered act looks like a refusal to admit the obvious nobility or at least legitimacy of certain suicides (the Jews at Masada, Buddhist monks immolating themselves). At the very end Rauscher takes a more liberal approach, denying that suicide is per se a crime against God or that the Bible unequivocably condemns it, but he leaves such promising theological strands dangling. Rauscher ought to go back to his notes (much of his material is quite engrossing) and think the whole thing through again.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's