From the best-selling author of An Unquiet Mind: the first major book in a quarter century on suicide, with a particular focus on its terrible pull on the young. Night Falls Fast is both compelling and timely: in the United States and across the world there has been a frightening surge in suicides committed by children, adolescents and young adults. It is the third major cause of death in 19- to 24-year-olds, and the second in college students. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, an internationally recognized authority on depressive illnesses and their treatment, knows this subject firsthand. At the age of 28, after years of struggling with manic-depression, she attempted to kill herself. Her survival marked the beginning of a life's work to investigate both mental illness and self-inflicted death.
Weaving together a psychological and scientific exploration of the subject with personal essays about individual suicides, Dr. Jamison in this book brings not only her compassion and literary skill, but all of her knowledge, research and clinical experience to bear on this devastating problem. In tracing the network of reasons that underlie suicide, Dr. Jamison gives us astonishing examples of the methods and places people have chosen to kill themselves, and a startling look at their journals, drawings and farewell notes. She also brings us vivid insight into the most recent findings from hospitals and laboratories across the world; the critical biological and psychological factors that interact to cause suicide; the new strategies being evolved to combat them; and the powerful, but insufficiently used treatments from modern medicine.
Night Falls Fast dispels the silence and shame that too often surround suicide; it helps us to understand the suicidal mind, to better recognize the person at risk, and to comprehend the profound and disturbing loss created in those left behind.
"Suicide is a particularly awful way to die: the mental suffering leading up to it is usually prolonged, intense, and unpalliated," writes Kay Redfield Jamison. "There is no morphine equivalent to ease the acute pain, and death not uncommonly is violent and grisly." Jamison has studied manic-depressive illness and suicide both professionally--and personally. She first planned her own suicide at 17; she attempted to carry it out at 28. Now professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, she explores the complex psychology of suicide, especially in people younger than 40: why it occurs, why it is one of our most significant health problems, and how it can be prevented. Jamison discusses manic-depression, suicide in different cultures and eras, suicide notes (they "promise more than they deliver"), methods, preventive treatments, and the devastating effects on loved ones. She explores what type of person commits suicide, and why, and when. She illustrates her points with detailed anecdotes about people who have attempted or committed suicide, some famous, some ordinary, many of them young. Not easy reading, either in subject or style, but you'll understand suicide better and be jolted by the intensity of depression that drives young people to it. --Joan Price