Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology

Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology

Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology

Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology


Multidisciplinary and comprehensive in scope, this volume serves as an authoritative overview of scientific knowledge about suicide and its prevention, providing a foundation in theory, research, and clinical applications. Issues relevant to clinical case management are highlighted, and various treatment modalities are discussed in light of the latest research findings.


In spite of the ubiquity and devastating toll of self-destructive behaviors, until now there really has been no comprehensive textbook on suicidology, that is, on the scientific study, treatment, and prevention of suicidal, life-threatening, and self-injurious behavior. This volume attempts to address that need.

Suicide has been called the leading cause of unnecessary, premature death. In the United States, suicide affects many more than the 30,000 to 31,000 Americans who die each year and also more than the estimated annual 775,000 who make nonfatal suicide attempts. If every suicide intimately affects at least six family members or friends (a conservative number, at best), then every year in the United States there would be about 186,000 new survivors. If so, from 1971 to 1996 alone there would be roughly 4.5 million survivors of suicide (McIntosh, 1998).

On Wednesday, July 28, 1999, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher (accompanied by Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore; Harry Reid, U.S. Senator from Nevada; and John Lewis, Congressman from Georgia) declared that the national suicide rate must be reduced and that suicide poses a "serious public health problem" (suicide in 1999 was the eighth leading cause of death for all Americans). Surgeon General Satcher singled out the high suicide rate of older men as deserving special attention. This textbook discusses most of the 15 recommendations contained in his "Call to Action to Prevent Suicide 1999."

There have been other attempts at basic suicide books (see Chapter 1), but they have not been comprehensive suicidology textbooks. Our objectives and goals in writing the Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology (hereafter CTS) were specific.

Edwin S. Shneidman reminds us that suicide is a multidimensional malaise in needful individuals who perceive suicide as the solution to their problems. Thus, any worthy suicidology textbook must be both comprehensive and multidisciplinary.

CTS considers both theory and methods; history and art; psychological, biological, and social factors; ethics and philosophy; indirect self-destructive behaviors; and treatment, prevention, and survivors. Chapters are relevant to psychiatry, nursing, psychology, the social and behavioral sciences, biology, psychopharmacology, the brain and neurotransmitters, and criminal justice. The three primary authors (Maris, Berman, and Silverman) come from different professional backgrounds (the social and behavioral sciences, psychology, and medicine), which ensures a comprehensive perspective.

One key focus in CTS is suicide intervention, treatment, and prevention (and thus the book is a companion volume to the 1992 Guilford Press publication, Assessment and Prediction of Suicide). Most chapters contain boxed text relating to the implications of the chapter subject for suicide prevention. Our textbook was also envisioned as a handbook or reference work for use in applied, clinical settings: emergency rooms, suicide prevention and . . .

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