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Myths about Suicide Paperback – Dec 30 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (Nov. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674061985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674061989
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.9 x 21.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Myths about Suicide seeks to debunk the myriad ways that suicide is stigmatized by ignorance, disgust, contempt, and callousness. (Peter Monaghan Chronicle of Higher Education 2010-04-25)

In this very readable book, Joiner's wide ranging knowledge of the subject leads to deeply penetrating thoughts on the psychology of suicide. He attacks myths from multiple perspectives, drawing on materials from biblical times to the present, scientific research studies and clinical case studies, animal studies, literature, popular culture, and film. The book also advances Joiner's own theory of suicide: people who kill themselves feel that they are a burden to their socially significant others and feel alienated from society. Whether readers are beginning students or advanced researchers, they will find an abundance of stimulating thought and data here. (W. Feigelman Choice 2010-11-01)

When people kill themselves and those left behind are interviewed, they often respond with timeworn phrases, understandably. But such cliches often only spread myths...Joiner doesn't discuss the morality of killing oneself, nor how suicide can sometimes be a reasonable option. Rather, he seeks to spread the truth about suicide while "leaving a healthy fear of it intact." In that way, many lives may be saved and much anguish averted. Joiner's theory is that people desire suicide when they simultaneously hold these two psychological states in their minds for long enough: the perception that one is a burden and the sense that one does not belong. Only a more widespread and accurate understanding of suicide, he insists, can help counteract such states and prevent unnecessary deaths. (Susan K. Perry Psychology Today 2011-07-15)

About the Author

Thomas Joiner is Distinguished Research Professor and Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and author of Why People Die by Suicide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa85c06c0) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa861d2e8) out of 5 stars Wonderful Insight! Dec 6 2010
By siansays - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book caught my eye and my curiosity. What an excellent read. The research is extremely well documented! My major in college was psychology, but, one does not have to be well versed to understand this book. The "layman" can understand just as well as any psychologist. And for those in the psychiatric field, I highly recommend this book.

I have been affected by suicide myself. After many attempts, my best friend ended her life six years ago. There were many times over the course of the book where I found myself a) nodding my head in understanding and b) surprised by what I discovered.

There are so many myths, so many misunderstandings regarding suicide. And, so many assumptions. The prevailing stigma attached to mental disease is so disheartening. One thing that I want anyone reading this review to know : the person who 'left you behind' did not, I repeat did not, do this to punish you in any way.

For those who are considering this book as a way to better understand what happened, I urge you to purchase this. Bear in mind that this book is about suicide itself; it is not a guide to specifically help those who were left behind. Though the knowledge you gain from it might do just that. For myself,
I found it to be very soothing as well as extremely informative.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa86669a8) out of 5 stars The anti-myths about suicide. March 25 2010
By Ennio Ammendola - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Joiner has given us another opportunity for deep reflections on the myths related to suicide. If you are sincerely interested in the theory of Dr. Joiner and want to appreciate this book even more, then I suggest reading first his previous book (Why People Die by Suicide, 2007.) There are many myths related to suicide and the merit of Dr. Joiner is not only "to collect" them in one book, but mostly "to explain" why these myths are still perceived as "the truth" and "to present" the "anti-myths" by supporting them with reliable research. In addition, Dr. Joiner builds his counterarguments using his theory and what strikes the readers' attention is the "simplicity" with which he explains his view. His writing is simple and direct; he is able to connect myths, false beliefs, research and antimyths as my grandmother was able to mix together all the ingredients for the perfect Sunday looked simple but almost impossible to replicate. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in accurate information about suicide delivered to you by one of the best suicidologist in the world.

PS: I am Italian so I can certify that Bellagio is located in Italy and "not only" in Las Vegas (see pag.281.) If you still do not believe me visit [...].
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8661b64) out of 5 stars Reality check March 10 2012
By Dr. Gabriella Kadar - Published on
Format: Paperback
I heard Dr. Joiner interviewed on CBC 'Ideas' hosted by Paul Kennedy. One of my colleagues, a woman who was a best friend for many, many years committed suicide in 2011. Literally and figuratively, her death broke my heart. When I heard Dr. Joiner's interview I ordered a copy of this book and his other book "Why People Commit Suicide". This book arrived first.

Definitely I understand why people commit suicide. I think Dr. Joiner has made an extensive and comprehensive review of the subject. What a painful 'think' it all is. I have to admit, there were times I needed a break from the book. But I finished reading it. As a person deeply and profoundly affected by the loss of someone I believed was as constant as the North Star, Dr. Joiner's work helped with the intellectual understanding.

Probably this book is a 'must read' for healthcare professionals of any type. We all have patients who experience the terrible loss through suicide of a loved one. We must have the courage to learn and to understand and be able to be supportive of those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by suicide.

Dr. Thomas Szasz maintains that a person has the right to choose to end their life. But I'm not sure he has a grasp on the truly terrible effect this has on those left behind.

Thank you, Dr. Joiner. You have done an exceptional job on explaining so people can understand. Intellectual comprehension is at least a great place to start. The emotional fallout is something else again.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa86613cc) out of 5 stars Brillant Readable Insightful Work.. May 2 2010
By T. Lord - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Joiner should be commended for his research and study. Most other books frankly leave much to be desired. Please read his first book "Why People Die" before reading his new work. I'm not a sociologist or psych professional but a business professional. I've had over a dozen friends effect "self-deliverence" stemming from "econo-cide" or "divorce-cide" in the past 3 years. All were brillant smart caring and loving people who simply couldn't cope. Dr. Joiner's thesis of connectedness and belonging to a context greater than self is spot on and desreves great praise., especially in today's times where the concept of self-fulfillment has greater context than respondsibility to family, friends and work.

Suicide clearly is not viewed correctly by the media. They will write on auto accidents as a "natural cause of death", but have no manifest to research why mostly males choose to end pain and suffering for the sake of reasons only that respective individual takes with him to eternity.

Dr. Joiner's rearch offers the most clear, brillant and insightful thoughts regarding self-deliverance.

With the most viscious economic climate since the depression and a surge in divorce of long-term marriages, I hope Dr. Joiner's next book tackles these two alarming trends. The cause/effect relationship is there in living color.

Dr. Joiner's work on perception/reality is fascinating in every realm especially in a society like today where intellectual and emotional honesty seems to have been discarded.

For those who have lost a family member or friend due to self-deliverance, you have my honest condolonces. But also please consider what caused their decision.

Dr. Joiner's two works offer the most insightful, well researched and easily read insight into the mind and thought process of those that seek to transition from human existence.

I highly recommend both these excellent titles.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8661d38) out of 5 stars The format could have been better, but this was very informative Sept. 3 2012
By Meaghan - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book was pretty repetitive (kept bringing up the same examples over and over again) and I wish it had a better table of contents. But Joiner definitely knows his stuff and he writes in a very engaging way, with appropriate intensity and details. I think I agree with everything he said about the various myths. I would recommend this to suicidal people, their families and friends, and anyone who's just interested in the subject.

Fun fact: I have severe clinical depression and read this book right after I got out of the hospital (again) and while in a melancholy frame of mind. I emailed Dr. Joiner to ask if, in the event that I ever killed myself, would he like me to will my diaries to him. He replied that to accept my proposal would be to accept my suicide, so he had to say no.