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Hellen

Hellen

Currently reading

Becoming a Behavioral Science Researcher: A Guide to Producing Research That Matters
Rex B. Kline
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference
Cordelia Fine
The Craftsman
Richard Sennett
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide - Kay Redfield Jamison Night Falls Fast is a work of non-fiction about suicide.

Sacrificing correctness of statements for readability is often a trap for this kind of non-fiction, but I thought this book had very little problems with that. I appreciated the quoting of authors who attempted/committed suicide and the mention of the context, simply because I like reading and found this interesting (I didn't know about many of the ones mentioned, such as Ernest Hemingway).

In this time and progress in neuroscience I think it's no problem this book had a big focus on the brain's chemistry under several mental illnesses. Environmental causes weren't ignored at all, but were - as I believe correctly - described as on/off-switches for already present wiring. There's criticism of this strong reductionist approach in other reviews though, for example the lack of a free will in all this tumult that's for example manic depression (because of the author’s own experience extensively and well discussed) and the implications for the mind-body debate. When mentioning such things I believe you're disagreeing with suicide research's current state instead of the author's point of view (which might be the same), because it is where current research's focus is. Rightfully so, if you ask me. The idea that by now (this book was first published in 1999) is more mainstream, namely that mental disorders are similar to other physical diseases and nothing to be ashamed of, also fits this. It's not like people bring up free will when discussing the biology of cancer. You can't decide not to have cancer. It's the same with mental illness.

Jamison presents theories and studies gracefully and well-written. She leaves plenty of room for more personal accounts as well. There's plenty of examples and arguments for suicide as a result of mental illness (as opposed to for example Thomas Szasz, who compares suicide to personal decisions such as smoking tobacco). The chapter on pharmacology I thought was a bit less, but we're 14 years further after all.

I’d love to say "if you’re only to read one non-fiction book about suicide, it must be this one", but I haven’t read many others. But I can say this is a good place to start.