When suicide happens close to us, we wonder why. This is doubly
hard to understand when serious mental illness is part of the picture:
Kay Redfield Jamison (2001) suffered a bipolar disorder and was
suicidal from her teens to her thirties. Yet, she became a psychologist,
gained knowledge about suicide, and wrote an excellent book to help
us understand the bipolar illness. Similarly, a grieving father of a 23-
year-old suicide victim searched exhaustively for the reasons his son
suffered mental illness, many suicide attempts, and many defeats
(Aurthur, J., 2002).
See Norcross, et al (2003) for more recommended books, film,
Web sites and support groups.
Books for therapists:
Pope and Vasquez (1998) have an excellent chapter for therapists
can be a very trying and stressful experience for the therapist and, if
the patient dies under his/her care, it is traumatic, often involving both
great personal grief, like the loss of a close friend, and sometimes guilt
and deep regrets. The chapter gives several suggestions for evaluating
suicide risks and it discusses special circumstances when dealing with
a patient threatening suicide. Of particular interest are bits of wisdom
and the best advice from several recognized suicide experts.
Spirito, A. & Overholser, J. (2002). Evaluating and treating
adolescent suicide attempters: From research to practice (Practical
resources for the mental health professional). Academic Press. Strong
on assessment of high-risk young people and detailed information
about dealing with specific circumstances and personality types.
References from this section are located in the books
bibliography (see Table of Contents). CTL Last updated June 13, 2004.
Even though I thought I was a well trained therapist, it took me a long time to
learn about self-injury or self-mutilation. Little or nothing was mentioned about it in
Graduate School. At my first job in a Medical Center Psychiatry Clinic we treated
women from a near by Womens Prison and a Girls Reform School. Occasionally, one
of those clients had carved her initials and/or a girlfriends initials into her arm or
stomach. It was a declaration of friendship and loyalty to another prisoner. A few
years later, when I was consulting to a State Mental Hospital, I heard about patients
who had deeply scared their face and a couple of men who had attempted self-
castration. So, the young women from prison were expressing a positive feeling for
someone else but the patients in a mental institution were expressing self-hatred.
It wasnt until I had published this book online in 1997 and was active on Forums
(you have to register first and please abide by the rules) that I learned that self-