gimmethatbook

Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: suicide

The Pain of Suicide by Dr Jo-Ann Rowland

 

Every suicide is an individual tragedy whose origins challenge our mental capacity. Suicide is a global phenomenon. Each year there are over 800,000 reported suicides worldwide and that is expected to increase to over 1.5 million by 2020. More people attempt suicide than die from suicide. Family-member survivors and communities are left with many unanswered questions, not understanding why the person chose to commit suicide. Persons responding to suicide and suicide attempts are very often not prepared for what they encounter and this exacerbates the problem. This book looks at the struggles of a high-risk people group and presents interventions and postventions proffered in a consultation forum.

Thank you to Authoright for this ARC!

Dr Rowland’s concern for those lost to suicide is evident in this well-researched book. She concentrates on the suicide rate in Guyana, South America, since this little country had the highest number of suicides in 2012 and 2014. Further into the book she examines some insights into the suicidal mind, the effect of religion on those who want to kill themselves, and a discussion of “psychache”, the ongoing mental, emotional, and psychological emotions experienced by suicidal people.

Regarding Guyana, suicide has historically been a part of the Indian experience, with an average yearly number of about 123,000. There are various predisposing factors, such as culture and sociology, which the author explores further in other chapters.

Hopelessness and suicidal ideation are common threads amongst all races, with the thought being that counseling (both for the depressed person and bereavement) would be helpful. The stigma and grief are nearly unbearable, and the act should not be glamorized. Regarding this last statement, the World Health Organization created guidelines for media reporting of suicides such that a phenomenon called “suicide contagion” does not occur. These guidelines include not placing blame, calling the act “completed” rather than “successful”, and highlight alternatives to suicide. These may appear obvious, but there are stories in the book where friends and relatives seemingly ignored or didn’t understand multiple warning signs given off, and someone died as a result of this.

Dr Rowland’s research was conducted through meetings with both relatives of, and survivors of, suicide attempts. Her goal was to determine why the suicide rate in Guyana was so high and to see if she could make a difference in this number. Transcripts of her meetings were also analyzed independently by two Guyanese, who applied both cultural and academic reason to their analysis. Intervention strategies were discussed by a panel of doctors and social workers after the research findings were examined. Some of these intervention strategies included community care groups, parenting/coping skills, school-based programs, and the establishment of drug courts. This last item is quite important, for pesticides and drugs are used as a method for suicide. Many Guyanese are farmers and have ready access to agricultural chemicals.

Reasons discovered for suicide included depression, substance abuse, and family dysfunction. Family conflicts arose out of cultural differences between children and parents, or marriages where the husband did not support his wife adequately. Guyanese families are structured around the patriarchal system, and “culture shock” can occur when mothers need to work to support the family and the children are left alone with no caregivers.

Suicide survivors expressed the pain of being misunderstood and unsupported by parents or family. There is also a stigma so forceful that one parent “self-discharged” her minor child, claiming the embarrassment of the attempt was too much for the family to bear.

The author concludes that lack of coping skills devalues the meaning of life, and drive these hurting individuals to seek “peace” via suicide. The reasons are the same no matter what country one is from, and there is heartache (or psychache) within every culture.

Dr Rowland has set up an organization in Guyana called Ephrathah, built specifically to engage those who are hurting. Counseling and persona development programs are offered to help reach those who are in despair, regardless of ethnicity or community status. I feel this organization will go a long way to help these vulnerable individuals.

I commend Dr Rowland for giving of her time and interest so freely. She is truly a caring soul who is seeking to mitigate suicidal ideation not only in Guyana, but all over the world. Her research can be translated into any culture in any country and needs to serve as a wakeup call to those who may have suicidal friends or relatives. Mental health can be a challenge at any age or stage, and we must all be willing to give that extra attention to someone who is depressed or hurting. That little bit may go a long way in saving a life. Please take the time to read this book and understand more about suicide. You can get your copy here.

THE EDUCATION OF A CORONER by John Bateson

In the vein of Dr. Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff, an account of the hair-raising and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths to serial killers, to Golden Gate Bridge suicides.
Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the country. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, and comprises a large percentage of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job—which is different from what is depicted on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, preparing testimony for court to notifying families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs—prescription and illegal—and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena such as autoeroticism.

Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner provides a firsthand and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a public servant whose work is dark and mysterious yet necessary for society to function.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Fans of true crime will love this book. Coroner Ken Holmes’ cases are described in great, gory detail, along with his thought process for cause of death. Some go unsolved, but all of them are a part of him.

Holmes is a self-deprecating man, which helped him move up the ladder within his department. As each case unfolds, the author portrays him with the right amount of confidence and respect. Some cases are more convoluted than others, so I am not sure who is at fault when the particulars get confusing. There were times where I had to read over the cast of characters a few times in order to determine who killed who, who had the motive, and other items of note. That is really the only caveat I have about this book – otherwise it’s an enjoyable, if dark, read. There are plenty of cases to appeal to everyone’s interest, whether it be prurient or otherwise. Holmes has an outstanding memory and usually has a philosophical turn when sharing his stories.

I got the impression that he is proud of his work, pays great attention to detail, and truly cares about those affected by the victim’s death. He emphasizes personal contact and shows empathy to those left behind.

Any book that teaches me something is a gem. In reading THE EDUCATION OF A CORONER I learned about rigor mortis (starts at the jaw, which is the strongest muscle in the body), suicide (apparently the Golden Gate Bridge was a mecca for those seeking to shuffle off this mortal coil) and government (how to work your way up through the ranks).

This was an excellent departure for the norm for me, and a thoroughly wonderful experience. If you have an interest in true crime or want to know what really happens during an investigation, pick this up. You won’t be sorry.

You can grab your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”1501168223″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Next Stop: Nina by Robin Raven

nextx stop nina

Nina never was one who felt comfortable in this world. As she struggles to cope with the pain of her present and past, the young girl’s life is changed through the beauty of art. When Nina grows up and winds up in over her head in a dark place, she finds herself somehow transported to another time when nothing is quite what it seems. She must fight the horrors of her past all over again. Along the way, she faces greater challenges than she imagined. This is a character-driven novel with a heroine who faces life, love, and overcoming suicidal depression on her own terms.

 

Many thanks to the author for providing me with this review copy!

NEXT STOP: NINA is a book that will touch your emotions and send you into high and low places. I cringed when I read about Nina’s childhood and how innocent she was, always trying to forgive her abusive father. She feels she is never good enough, pretty enough, or strong enough to continue living, and considers suicide.

As she prepares to leave this world forever, something happens, and she finds herself back at home, talking to her beloved brother. Nina’s mental age and her physical age and appearance are very different. Has she gone back in time? Is this a hallucination or a dream?

The story continues with Nina trying to change the events of her past (and more depressing details about her life are revealed). She realizes that some events are always meant to be, and while this is heart wrenching to her, she understands she can grow and become a better person. She turns to philanthropic gestures, trying to help others by volunteering her time and seeing the light within herself grow.

Her first sense of true happiness occurs when she befriends a girl in school that no one ever talked to, in her “past life”. They become best friends and share many years together, bringing Nina more happiness and confidence.

One of Nina’s lifelong dreams was to meet an artist  whose painting made an impact on her during her darkest times. To her endless surprise, once she finally does meet him at an event, they hit it off and eventually fall in love. She self-sabotages the relationship and they break up. At this point I became frustrated with Nina, because her lack of confidence and poor communication was really the issue.

All of a sudden, we find Nina as a young girl again, realizing she has to live her life over yet again, experiencing all the tragedy and loss. Her interactions with others are different and things don’t go as they did during her first reincarnation. As she repeats things she develops a kind of Groundhog Day attitude towards herself, learning to accept things, and learning to change for the better.

Her interaction with Leonard (the artist) develops again in a slightly different way; and we can see the shift in each of the characters as more layers are added to the story. This is the main takeaway of NEXT STOP: NINA — growth and acceptance. Nina still shows lack of communication skills at times, which I suppose was integral in showing just how deeply depressed her character was; but the scenes where all was good between Nina and Leonard were tender and sweet.

As I mulled over the story I wondered if the “back in time” was really just a hallucination or something more sci-fi. There is a sort of explanation towards the 75% mark, but it is vague and unsatisfying, coming from a mostly undeveloped character that seems to be out of place.  I wasn’t sure what to do with that part of the story, and eventually I shrugged and kept on reading to see how the latest incarnation of Nina and Len would turn out.

It is easy for the reader to feel the heartbreak of Nina’s world; as author Robin Raven illustrates that beautifully. Reading about the tragedy in her life the first time was awful, and reading about it again, even though you knew how it would turn out, was no less horrifying the second or third time.

This was a book with an unusual premise and a positive message. Read it for yourself to discover if love truly saves the day for Nina. You can get your own copy [easyazon_link identifier=”0692406298″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

© 2020 gimmethatbook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑