Friday, June 27, 2014
Review of How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention by Susan Rose Blauner
On the jacket of the hardcover, Susan Rose Blauner @sblauner writes, “I searched for a book like this, but found none, so I wrote one.” The first edition was printed in 2002, when there were few books about suicide. What was available lacked a story of recovery, and Ms. Blauner filled that void. Making oneself vulnerable by writing about one’s own suicidal thinking takes courage.
It’s brave for an author to state that she has borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depression. It’s difficult to continue the cycle of life under these conditions. Blauner says that she was a victim of sexual abuse. (Rape victims are 13 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their non-assaulted counterparts.) Blauner shares her personal journey from suicidal thinking to hope and healing.
The premise of the book is that most people who think about suicide don’t want to die; they want relief from emotional pain. Blauner was responsible to the readers by doing her homework. Included in her book are notations from specialists who study suicide, thereby offering research as a foundation for her statements. (Those who experience the suicidal thoughts are also experts on the topic.)
In the “Tricks of the Trade” section, Susan shares sources of help, as well as skills developed in therapy. Blauner explains the difference between statements such as “I am depressed” versus “I feel depressed.” She uses analogies to illustrate the “Neuron Superhighway,” simplifying a complex neurological pattern. She offers numerous suggestions for the reader to explore. Sometimes, when one is suicidal, there are no other options. She encourages the reader to explore an activity, such as journal writing. It’s not the answer, but each bit of information is a step toward life.
If you are looking for a book that will help you help someone with suicidal thoughts, How I Stayed Alive has specific instructions, including how to listen well and respond appropriately.
Blauner put an enormous amount of work into this book. Part Seven includes hotlines, websites, and resources. There is a sectioned bibliography, references to citations, permissions, and an index. It takes effort to convey this helpful information to readers.
Susan Blauner structured her intangible journey into a book that has substance for therapists, suicidal thinkers, and those around them. A portion of the proceeds of the book go to the National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE. If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor Story