Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Review: Saving Ourselves From Suicide: Before and After by Linda Pacha


This book describes ways to handle your emotions and responses if you lose someone close to you to suicide. The author herself lost her son that way a few years ago. He was away at college for the first time. He had been diagnosed by one of two therapists as having Asberger’s Disease, a mild variation of autism, and was also experiencing confusion about his sexuality. He was having trouble relating to his classmates and was the subject of a lot of gossip and innuendo. He told his mother he felt depressed but never at any point in time mentioned that he was thinking that he might want to kill himself. The story the author tells in the beginning of the book about what happened with her son during this period is both gripping and highly disturbing. The author is an excellent writer.


The advice she give to parents and other survivors throughout the book is spot on. She talks about all the second guessing survivors subject themselves to, all the what-ifs and if-onlys, and the difficulties in interactions with friends, family, and acquaintances. What if you are being judged?


She relates her experiences and gives advice on issues such as how to handle grief during the first and second years after the death.  How does one handle anniversary reactions or one’s shattered religious faith?


She then goes on to her views about how to spot warning signs that someone you love is heading down the path of suicide, and how people in general and parents in particular can advocate for mental health and decreasing all of the pressures on today’s adolescents.  And then she goes on to the general subject of helping others who have gone through what she did.


Since she is not a mental health professional herself, she wisely avoids discussing suicides that result from adverse childhood experiences like sexual or physical abuse by parents, domestic violence, chaotic parental relationships with substance abuse and/or frequent affairs, parental alienation in divorce cases, double messages in the family, and the like. The book is not at all meant for those types of parents, whose problems far exceed the loss of a loved one, as bad as that still can be for them.


Another point that I like to make is that people who come from an abusive or chaotic environments are way more likely to become bullies or to bully others themselves, which means that the idea that bullying is the main cause of suicide is somewhat of a red herring.  As is the idea about suicide being caused by watching TV shows like 13 Reasons Why. Watching that could conceivable affect the timing of an attempt, but is hardly the actual cause. People are not that fragile.


I was happy to see that she wrote about the problems created by helicopter parenting, although she doesn’t use that term. A lot of parents these days are being absurdly over-protective to the point where kids today often feel fragile and incompetent , as well as a big burden on their parents. In response, they may in some cases start to think the parents would be a whole lot better off without them. This has gotten out of hand on college campuses with all the nonsense about microaggressions and “safe spaces” and viewing other people’s opinions as traumatizing.


This is in general an excellent book and well worth reading.

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