cover image The Enigma of Suicide

The Enigma of Suicide

George Howe Colt, Author Summit Books $24.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-50996-5

The U.S. purportedly has at least 80 suicides per day, with many times that number in failed attempts. Life staffer Colt attributes the alarming rise in adolescent suicides to multiple factors including drugs, loneliness, divorce, rootlessness, increased competition and the threat of global suicide hanging over us all. The most comprehensive, illuminating look at suicide to date, this monumental survey begins with an account of ``suicide clusters'' that shook Plano, Texas in 1983 and a tri-county area around New York City in 1984. Poignant case histories underscore the fact that ``even to trained suicidologists, clues are often recognizable only in retrospect.'' Surveying the history of suicide from ancient Egypt to U.S. inner cities, Colt demonstrates that the way a culture judges suicide depends largely on that culture's view of death. After discussing the moral and legal issues raised by right-to-die advocates, he explores contemporary suicide prevention, including treatment centers, hot lines, survivor groups and unprecedented classroom efforts to educate students about suicide. (Apr.)