Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Kay Redfield Jamison, Author Alfred A. Knopf $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-375-40145-9
Providing historical, scientific and other helpful material on suicide, Jamison (An Unquiet Mind), a Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor, makes an excellent contribution to public understanding with this accessible and objective book. There is, she asserts, a suicide every 17 minutes in this country. Identifying suicide as an often preventable medical and social problem, Jamison focuses attention on those under 40 (suicides by those who are older often have different motivations or causes). Citing research that suicide is most common in individuals with mental illness (diagnosed or not), particularly depression and manic depression, she clearly describes the role of hormones and neurotransmitters as well as potential therapies, including lithium and other antidepressants. Jamison presents fascinating facts about suicide in families and in twins, gender disparities, and the impact of the seasons and times of day. She also provides poignant portraits of those who have committed suicide--from the explorer Meriwether Lewis to a high-achieving Air Force Academy graduate--as well as stories from her own experience. Historical perspective on how different societies have viewed suicide gives context, especially on methods and common locales (in the U.S., San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge is the most popular spot). Critical of her profession for not recognizing suicidal tendencies more readily, Jamison scolds the media and firearms industry as well. The book effectively brings suicide out of the closet, gives general readers insight into symptoms and should increase national awareness of the problem. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-0-330-48179-3
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-375-70147-4
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