Suicide--The Ultimate Rejection? A Psycho-Social Study

Suicide--The Ultimate Rejection? A Psycho-Social Study

Suicide--The Ultimate Rejection? A Psycho-Social Study

Suicide--The Ultimate Rejection? A Psycho-Social Study

Synopsis

Suicide - The Ultimate Rejection? is an interdisciplinary text based on Colin Pritchard's first-hand experience both as a practising psychiatric social worker and social researcher. It provides an analysis of current research on suicide, exploring possible 'causes' and how best to intervene, and makes the case for a science based practice 'art'. International rates of suicide are examined as the author looks at suicide in a cross-cultural context showing how it is differently understood in different ethnic groups, reflecting various degrees of stigma. He argues for greater recognition of these key differences between cultures and ethnic groups, and shows how important they can be to our understanding and intervention. Suicide - The Ultimate Rejection? explores the concepts of prediction and prevention and asks how the current health and community services might work to reduce the number of suicides in line with the targets set by the government's Health of the Nation. Different approaches to intervention and treatment are considered, with emphasis on those which research has shown to be the most promising. Special attention is given to the families of the victim, and in the final pages a wider view of suicide which includes euthanasia is explored. Using new research, Colin Pritchard examines the practical and moral issues raised by euthanasia. Suicide will be of interest to students of social work, psychiatric nursing, health visiting and medicine, as well as health professionals and counsellors.

Excerpt

Following the suicide of a seventeen-year-old man, his grieving family were left desolate after a funeral in which he was interred in unhallowed ground. The echoes of Ophelia's funeral from Shakespeare's Hamlet are obvious yet the burial occurred in a European Community country, Greece, in 1992 and highlights the interrelationship of personal and family tragedies with social, political, religious and legal attitudes to the phenomenon of suicide. The young man apparently felt rejected because of an unrequited love, and had impulsively killed himself. His grieving family felt rejected by his apparent disregard for their feelings, while the shocked local community expressed its ambivalence in attending the funeral, which was held outside the village cemetery, en masse.

Suicide is a human phenomenon, found throughout recorded history. It was noted in biblical times within the Jewish and Christian faiths. It is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita within the Hindu faith, in classical Greece and Rome, and later throughout the middle ages, when the reaction to the heresy of suicide was severe hostility from the universal Church, whose later fathers railed against the canonical sin of despair.

Suicide occurs in every culture, not only in the Western developed world, but also in India, China and, despite severe theological prohibitions, Islam. It has attracted many myths of national stereotyping and, as will be shown, assumptions often held by English-speaking people about suicide in Japan and Sweden are very questionable.

There is another form of myth, that of 'beautiful' deaths, which often surrounds the end of young people in apparently idealistic suicides. This is best epitomized by the famous painting by Henry Wallis (which is now in the Tate Gallery) of the death of the young poet Chatterton in 1770. He was barely eighteen when he poisoned himself in his London garret. The painting shows a slender young man, in apparently peaceful deep repose, with the early morning light coming through an open window, which partly reveals detail half-hidden . . .

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