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March 1969

Suicidal Behaviors: Diagnosis and Management.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(3):383-384. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740150127023

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This work is essentially a textbook of suicidology, compiled by Dr. Resnik and 48 authors. It is well-written throughout, logically organized and intelligibly presented. There is a good table of contents which includes a brief, helpful abstract of each chapter. The book is organized into four subdivisions: general, philosophical, and theoretical considerations; diagnosis; clinical management; and community issues. It is impractical to present here a discussion of each chapter; however, highlights will be mentioned.

The book begins with a fascinating historical review of man's attitudes about suicide from classical Greece and Rome onward, particularly his positive, negative, and neutral moral judgements. Thus some self-destructive behavior is considered bravery, and some illegal. Schneidman demonstrates that "attempted suicide" is an oversimplification and discusses the new terms of suicidology. His psychological autopsy of Captain Ahab is illuminating.

The myths about suicide are dispelled in a sound documentation by Pokorny.

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