Suicidal

Why we kill ourselves

Authoritative, accessible, personal, profound—there’s never been a book on suicide like this. It will help you understand yourself and your loved ones, and it will change the way you think about this most vexing of human problems.

Published in the UK as A Very Human Ending: How Suicide Haunts Our Species.

Synopsis

For much of his thirties, Jesse Bering thought he was probably going to kill himself. He was a successful psychologist and writer, with books to his name and bylines in major magazines. But none of that mattered. The impulse to take his own life remained. At times it felt all but inescapable.

Bering survived. And in addition to relief, the fading of his suicidal thoughts brought curiosity. Where had they come from? Would they return? Is the suicidal impulse found in other animals? Or is our vulnerability to suicide a uniquely human evolutionary development? In Suicidal, Bering answers all these questions and more, taking us through the science and psychology of suicide, revealing its cognitive secrets and the subtle tricks our minds play on us when we’re easy emotional prey. Scientific studies, personal stories, and remarkable cross-species comparisons come together to help readers critically analyze their own doomsday thoughts while gaining broad insight into a problem that, tragically, will most likely touch all of us at some point in our lives. But while the subject is certainly a heavy one, Bering’s touch is light. Having been through this himself, he knows that sometimes the most effective response to our darkest moments is a gentle humor, one that, while not denying the seriousness of suffering, at the same time acknowledges our complicated, flawed, and yet precious existence.

Authoritative, accessible, personal, profound—there’s never been a book on suicide like this. It will help you understand yourself and your loved ones, and it will change the way you think about this most vexing of human problems.

Publisher

University of Chicago Press

Release date

November 5, 2018

Coming Soon
ISBN

9780226463322

Dimensions

6.0 × 9.0 in / 272 pages

"By the time you finish reading these sentences someone in the world will have committed suicide. Why do more than a million people a year kill themselves? To answer this question we need a brilliant research scientist, an insightful psychologist, and a sensitive but powerful writer who has seriously contemplated taking their own life. Jesse Bering fits all three criteria and the book you hold in your hands is a deeply moving narrative that cuts to the heart of the ultimate question any of us could ever ask: why should I live? Given what’s at stake in the topic, Suicidal may very well be the most important book you will ever read.”

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine

"Sadly, the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, our minds forever pulling us into dark forests. But there are numerous stages at which we can step off that path before it's too late. Drawing on research evidence and the world around us, Bering signposts and, we can hope, saves.”

Dr. Jon Sutton editor of The Psychologist

"Suicide is one of the toughest subjects to write about, and psychologist Jesse Bering does it with candor, scientific integrity and genuine empathy ...The book itself is a testament to the human spirit. Suicidal is a vital book--informative, engaging and enlightening despite its dark subject matter.”

Shelf Awareness

“Bering has created an empathetic and moving odyssey into a universe of cognition in which the embrace of death is a welcome friend rather than a looming chasm … A fascinating scientific journey.”

The Catholic Herald

"A necessary contribution to the demystification of a subject still underdiscussed, Bering’s book is wise, warm, and sure to encourage conversation.“

The Irish Times

“In Suicidal, Jesse Bering explores one of the most essential questions we all face: Why keep living? He doesn't claim to have found any easy answers, but his exploration is surprising, funny, touching, and deeply personal. Suicidal feels like a gift, and reading it reminded me that encounters with great books are reason enough, for now, to keep going.”

Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn

Translations & other editions

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