Suicide as a Dramatic Performance

ISBN 13: 9781412856942

Suicide as a Dramatic Performance

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9781412856942: Suicide as a Dramatic Performance

Each suicide is as unique as the individuals involved, especially if one examines the nature of the act and to what extent these acts can be viewed as a theatrical performance. Focusing on the dramatic aspects of suicide may seem tangential to the physical and mental pain experienced by those who try to kill themselves, but dramatic aspects often provide important clues for understanding the mental state of suicidal individuals.

David Lester and Steven Stack investigate what happens in the weeks, days and hours before a suicide when the suicidal individual must make decisions and formulate the script for his or her suicidal act. The editors argue that these choices may help us understand and prevent other suicides and stimulate new and innovative research in this important area.

Through twenty-five substantive chapters, including both quantitative and qualitative analyses, this book offers insights into suicide as a dramatic act, with chapters on the intended audience, the suicide note, the location and method chosen, and cultural scripts, including suicide-by-cop, sati, seppuku, and duels. The contributors to this volume argue that psychological, social, and cultural factors influence these choices and that the decisions made by the individual are important for understanding the mental state of the person choosing to die by suicide.

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About the Author:

David Lester is distinguished professor of psychology at the Stockton University. He serves on the editorial board of numerous professional journals, including Omega, Crisis, and Death Studies. He is the author or editor of nearly one hundred books, including Suicide and the Holocaust, Understanding Suicide, and Understanding and Preventing Suicide.


Steven Stack is professor of Criminal Justice and Psychiatry at Wayne State University. He is the author of more than 320 articles and chapters as well as four books, including Suicide as a Dramatic Performance.


"They [the editors] are convincing in pointing out that some suicides may be intended as theater. And that insight might provide some help to people on the ground trying to prevent suicide."

—Peter J. Leithart, First Things

"This is a remarkable book demonstrating that suicide is a performance with an audience. Suicide is social, is a communication, is rehearsed, and is acted on a particular stage. Suicide is not an isolated event as many think it is. This book is a must read for suicidologists, as well as anyone who thinks suicide is a lonely act. Readers will gain new insight into suicide through this book.”

—Michael J. Kral, Wayne State University

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