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Understanding Suicide

Why We Don't and How We Might

by James R. Rogers, David Lester

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Product Description

A provocative look at research and practice in suicide prevention - a "must read" for all concerned.

This provocative and erudite book highlights theoretical and methodological challenges that have plagued and continue to plague the field of suicidology. The basic premise is that recent research has not served to advance our understanding of suicidal behavior, but tends to repeat older research, often apparently without awareness that we are often merely "reinventing the wheel". As the authors maintain: "Very little of consequence has appeared in suicidology for many years - no new theory and no ground-breaking research."

The book discusses the contributions that each of the major disciplines have made to suicidology (is there a misplaced devotion to Durkheim’s 100-year-old theories?), and provide an overview of research and theories in some typical areas. Drawing from this, specific recommendations as to what researchers and theorists can do in the future to advance our understanding of suicide and suicide prevention are offered. It is hoped that these recommendations will stimulate research and theorizing so that our understanding of suicide will progress.

From the reviews:

"This is a wonderful book! In a 2000 fin de siècle review David Lester declared that suicidology had become enmired in dull, repetitive research addressing a limited range of issues. Now, a decade later, this new book by James Rogers and Lester provides a way forward - to lead suicidologists away from stale studies to embark upon interesting and exciting research which will definitively and authoritatively advance knowledge about suicide. From the pithy title to the appendix of pragmatic proposals this book pitches up a raft of ideas for new suicide research in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, anthropology and sociology. The book is written in an easy to read style and should be required reading for researchers, students, clinicians and teachers of suicidology. If a fraction of the book's research recommendations can be implemented then we can be hopeful that the next decade of suicide research will involve innovative, well-designed, cutting edge studies that will generate new knowledge about suicide for the 21st century."
Annette L. Beautrais, PhD, Yale, New Haven, CT, USA, and The University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

"The authors effectively make the case that rather than being at the end of suicidology, we are in fact ready for a new beginning. The authors' overview of different theories of suicide is useful for those clinicians aiming to understand and appropriately respond to the suicidal behavior of their clients. The authors' assessments of research topics within the field make this book valuable to educators, students, and researchers within the psychosocial rehabilitation field."
Rochelle Frounfelker in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2, Fall 2010

"James Rogers and David Lester have devoted Understanding Suicide: Why We Don’t and How We Might to expediting the painfully slow process of understanding suicide scientifically. They critique suicide research persuasively, and this volume should be available to every doctoral student (and we need many!) considering a doctoral dissertation in suicidology. Experienced researchers contemplating doing research in suicide would also greatly benefit by carefully reading this book.
Rogers and Lester provide expert commentary on the state of psychological, psychiatric, sociological, and anthropological research, and their suggestions provide a roadmap for how these fields can make more meaningful contributions.
The authors also examine a range of illustrative topics such as sexual abuse and suicidality, the assessment of suicide risk, social relationships, and the suicidal personality. Once again, they thoroughly critique the methodologies used to study these areas and offer concrete, specific recommendations for improvement.

Richard McKeon in PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 55, August 2010

"Rogers and Lester's Understanding Suicide: Why We Don't and How We Might is a long overdue book. Much of the current understanding and research in suicide is at least half-paralyzed. It is, in fact, easy to criticize the field; the authors expose, for example, the false claim that randomized control trials is the gold standard to 'wisdom', and other rigid and punitive myths. It is more difficult to get us out of the ruts of the field, and, perhaps for the first time, Rogers and Lester wisely show how, a veritable blue print for wellness for the field. One will, after reading this book, I predict, be more optimistic."
Antoon A. Leenaars, PhD, First Past President, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and Past President, the American Association of Suicidology

"This is a selective, focused volume. While reviewing work from four fields ranging from anthropology through psychiatry, and eight issue areas including suicide attitudes, risk assessment and sexual abuse, the authors offer 105 insightful recommendations for future research. This book belongs on the shelf as a key reference work for serious researchers in suicide studies."
Steven Stack, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Criminology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

"fascinating and thought provoking"
Béla Buda, MD, PhD in Crisis 2009, Vol. 31(3)

"This is a very timely book that provides an excellent commentary on the state of suicide science and comprehensive suggestions for future research objectives. Suicidology requires continuous and rigorous effort. This book supplies an impressive multidisciplinary approach and methods that will guide researchers in this important effort for years to come."
Rheeda L. Walker, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia

"There are some excellent ideas about how to advance our understanding of suicide and why it occurs... Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone in the field of suicidology."
Brett C. Plyler, MD, in Doody's Book Review

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