cover image HOW I STAYED ALIVE WHEN MY BRAIN WAS TRYING TO KILL ME: One Person's Suicide Prevention


Susan Rose Blauner, . . Morrow, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-06-621121-3

For 18 years, Blauner survived obsessive suicidal thoughts with the help of three psychiatric hospitalizations, an excellent therapist, 12-step support groups, "spiritual exploration," Prozac and a network of family and friends. This personal account of what worked for her offers excellent practical advice to "teach you how to get through those excruciating moments when every cell in your brain and body is screaming, 'I want to die!' " Approaching "suicidal thoughts" as an addiction, Blauner clearly explains how some people's "brain style" responds to environmental stresses or "triggers" with obsessive suicidal thoughts rather than cravings for alcohol or other drugs. Strongly influenced by the very successful 12-step model, she fashions a patchwork of strategies for understanding, preventing and treating suicidal "gestures," which she asserts are not actually attempts to die but efforts to stop unbearable psychological pain. Childhood sexual abuse and the death of her mother when she was 14 contributed to Blauner's long struggle, but she herself had to make the decision and effort to begin therapy at age 19, before her problem was even recognized or treated. Now Blauner provides others like herself with "Tricks of the Trade" that can literally save lives. With neither hollow platitudes nor medical doublespeak, she covers brain function, antidepressants, finding a good therapist, identifying triggers, creating a "Crisis Plan" for critical moments and heading off suicidal thoughts by coping with hunger, anger, loneliness and fatigue. Blauner provides an extremely valuable and much-needed tool for both suicidal thinkers and their loved ones. B&w illus. (On sale Aug. 6)

Forecast:The World Health Organization estimates that one million people die by suicide every year, and there are 700,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. for suicidal behavior every year. This exceptional book should be a boon to suicidal thinkers and those who care for them.