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Explaining Suicide

Book Description

The rate of suicides is at its highest level in nearly 30 years. Suicide notes have long been thought to be valuable resources for understanding suicide motivation, but up to now the small sample sizes available have made an in-depth analysis difficult. Explaining Suicide: Patterns, Motivations, and What Notes Reveal represents a large-scale analysis of suicide motivation across multiple ages during the same time period. This was made possible via a unique dataset of all suicide notes collected by the coroner’s office in southwestern Ohio 2000–2009.

Based on an analysis of this dataset, the book identifies top motivations for suicide, how these differ between note writers and non-note writers, and what this can tell us about better suicide prevention. The book reveals the extent to which suicide is motivated by interpersonal violence, substance abuse, physical pain, grief, feelings of failure, and mental illness. Additionally, it discusses other risk factors, what differentiates suicide attempters from suicide completers, and lastly what might serve as protective factors toward resilience.

  • Analyzes 1200+ suicide cases from one coroner’s office
  • Identifies the top motivations for suicide that are based on suicide notes
  • Discusses the extent to which suicides are impulsive vs. planned
  • Leads to a better understanding on how to prevent suicide
  • Emphasizes resilience factors over risk factors

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Preface
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Introduction
  9. Chapter 1. The History and Theories of Suicide
    1. Abstract
    2. The History of Suicide
    3. Suicide From the Early Modern Period to the Post–Civil War Era
    4. Suicide From the Post–Civil War Era to the Present
    5. Theories of Suicide
    6. Psychache Theory
    7. Interpersonal Theory of Suicidal Behavior
    8. Thwarted Disorientation Contexts
    9. Cognitive Theories of Suicide
    10. Hereditary and Biological Theories of Suicide
    11. Studying Special Populations
  10. Chapter 2. Findings
    1. Abstract
    2. Deciphering 1280 Cases
    3. Suicide Notes
    4. Overall Structure of the Notes
    5. Content of the Notes
    6. Very Frequently Occurring Content in the Notes
    7. Frequently Occurring Content
    8. Less Frequently Occurring Content
    9. Future Studies
    10. Motivations
  11. Chapter 3. Suicide Motivated by Interpersonal Relationships
    1. Abstract
    2. Suicides Related to Intimate Partners
    3. Conclusions
  12. Chapter 4. Escape as a Motivation for Suicide
    1. Abstract
    2. Escaping From Multiple Issues
    3. Escaping From Psychological Pain
    4. Escaping From Physical Pain
    5. Escaping From Legal and Financial Crises
    6. Conclusions
  13. Chapter 5. Grief and Failure
    1. Abstract
    2. Distinguishing Uncomplicated and Complicated Grief
    3. Failure
    4. Workplace Bullying: An Example of Complex Failure
    5. Intervention
    6. Other Categories That Were Not Well Supported
    7. Conclusions
  14. Chapter 6. The Complexity of Suicide Motivation
    1. Abstract
    2. Chaos in Life and Intent to Die
    3. Interpersonal Relationships and Gender Dynamics
    4. Attitudes Toward Death
    5. Reasons for Living
    6. Conclusions
  15. Chapter 7. Severe Mental Illness
    1. Abstract
    2. Severe Persistent Mental Illness and Suicide
    3. Conclusions
  16. Chapter 8. The Intersection of Suicide and Legal Issues
    1. Abstract
    2. Criminal Involvement
    3. Crimes Involving Substance Use, Abuse, or Addictions
    4. Conclusions Related to Criminal Involvement and Suicide
    5. Civil Issues
    6. Financial Issues—Foreclosure, Eviction, Bankruptcy
    7. It’s All Relative
    8. Conclusions Related to Legal Involvement and Suicide
  17. Chapter 9. Protective Factors and Resilience
    1. Abstract
    2. Factors That Lead to Longevity
    3. Factors That Lead to Lives Cut Short
    4. Death With Dignity
    5. Living With Thoughts of Death
    6. Protective Factors
    7. Resilience
    8. Conclusions
  18. Chapter 10. Conclusions and Implications
    1. Abstract
    2. Resources Already Available
    3. A National Agenda
    4. The Relationship Between Risk Factors and Motivations
    5. Societal Risk Factors: Opening the Dialogue Regarding Suicide and Mental Illness
    6. The Means Matter
    7. Health and First-Responder Systems Risk Factors
    8. Localizing the National Agenda
    9. Working at the Local Level to Help Families and Survivors
    10. Conclusions and Recommendations
    11. Postscript
  19. Appendix A. Detailed Methodology
  20. Appendix B. Coding Information
  21. References
  22. Index