A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide

By Alison Wertheimer | Go to book overview

Preface to the second edition

Reviewing what I had written over ten years ago and preparing this new edition has felt, at times, not unlike the process of bereavement-though less painful. I had to think about what could be retained, about what needed to be discarded, and what was new that needed to be incorporated?

A Special Scar was written partly because of my only sister's suicide and of course I am still a survivor of her suicide, although it is now more than twenty years since she took her own life. That event changed my life and the effects of Rosamunde's suicide will always remain with me. Nevertheless, being a suicide survivor does not form a major part of my present identity, my sense of who I am. So I am writing now from a different place, and inevitably with altered perspectives. I hope that this has not been detrimental to the process of writing. Because of the years which have elapsed it feels as though this second edition is really two books in one. If the result is an occasional unevenness, I hope that readers will understand the reasons for this.

The first edition was written with a wide-ranging readership in mind. It was written for survivors as well as their relatives and friends. I also envisaged that it would be read by people who, whether in a voluntary or professional capacity, care for, assist, support or counsel those bereaved by suicide: general practitioners, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, befrienders, counsellors and therapists, members of the clergy, police, coroners and coroner's officers. I hope that remains the case.

Material from interviewing fifty survivors formed the main part of the original edition and their stories remain as the 'heart' of the book (though some of the original accompanying references have been updated). Listening to people who have been more recently bereaved by suicide, I am aware of how often the narratives remain unchanged. Each person's grief will be different, but there are also common threads in shared experiences, feelings and thoughts. I hope therefore that the book will continue to speak to survivors, as well as informing those who have a helping role.

-xiv-

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