cover image Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength

Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength

Judy Collins. Jeremy P. Tarcher, $22.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-58542-260-9

Popular singer and writer Collins (Singing Lessons) centers this""monograph of tears"" on her 33-year-old son's suicide in 1992, and the result is a frank and revealing personal work that should resonate with readers who have suffered a similar loss. Collins explores the roots of suicidal tendencies in her family, from her own attempt at age 14 to her father-in-law's suicide, which occurred when her first husband was only 10. She chronicles her son's battle against alcoholism and his seven years of sobriety, followed by a relapse and various suicide attempts before his death. Using excerpts from her journals, she details her own painful attempts to understand her son's actions, which include hungrily reading what seems like every book written on the subject of suicide. Heavily influenced by the works of noted suicide expert Edwin Shneidman (Comprehending Suicide), Collins comes to see that depression is""an illness, like alcoholism,"" but that depression alone does not drive people to attempt suicide; that suicide is less a decision than a reaction to psychological pain; and that""getting permanently out of my pain is not the only answer."" The book's beauty is that Collins never presents her search for understanding in a mawkish or self-centered way. Her spiritual renewal, her efforts to reach out to others through suicide survival groups, and her commitment to""friends, therapists, habits of work and of life that take the power out of the depression"" will be an inspiration and a comfort to those left behind.