The Enigma of Suicide
George Howe Colt

Synopsis

The author's own aching sensitivity to the subject suffuses every page of his encyclopedic work, an utterly fascinating, admirably well-written and sad book. The numerous case histories of adult and adolescent suicides are rendered all the more poignant by the simplicity of their telling. Mr. Colt, a staff writer for Life magazine, examines suicide from every imaginable angle: historical, moral, sociological, psychological. He gives us a veritable Baedeker of suicidal practices, from Japanese seppuku to Indian suttee to the old English custom of burying suicides at crossroads with a wooden stake through the heart. Thanks to his exhaustive research, the text darts nimbly among scholarly theories, literary and fine-arts references, personal experiences, striking statistics, bizarre facts and the jarring rhythms of innumerable suicide notes. . . . In the end, through no fault of Mr. Colt's, suicide remains an enigma. But the literature on the subject--and the survivors--are greatly enriched by his evocative treatment of it.
From Dava Sobel - The New York Times Book Review

 

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