October 4, 1999
Book Review - Colleen Sullivan
Living When a Young Friend Commits Suicide: Or Even Starts Talking About It Earl A. Grollman and Max Malikow ISBN: 0-8070-2503-8 Beacon Press
Suicide, especially in children and teens is a subject rarely discussed. Yet since 1980 the suicide rate among children 10 to 14 has nearly doubled, and in older teens is disproportionately high. For every young person who commits suicide, the lives of friends and companions are touched in a way different from that of surviving a natural death.
Living When A Young Friend Commits Suicide addresses the concerns and questions of the young people left behind, sensitively guiding them to understanding and acceptance. From the initial feelings and emotions to the difficult and hard- hitting questions of youth the authors offer sound advice and empathy.
When a friend has committed suicide your feelings are myriad. Shock, grief, sadness, guilt and anger are some of the emotions discussed in this book. Your questions are multiple, most importantly "Why?" and "Was it Really a Suicide?" Did your friend tell you of his suicide plans and swear you to secrecy? Are you carrying a burden of guilt because of it? You need help, understanding and support to face the immediate future and to learn how to cope. You may have heard misconceptions about suicide that you need straight answers for, or you may have religious questions. All of these are addressed in a forthright, easily read and understood manner in this book.
I highly recommend this book for any young person faced with learning to live again after the suicide of a friend. I also recommend it for the parents, counselors and teachers of youth who may be the bereaved young person's first line of defense in recovery.
Addendum: As an adult with Bipolar Affective Disorder suicide has touched my life several times, both in close friends and in my own effort to end my life. It is my observation that loss due to suicide must be dealt with at the time or it may affect a person's life months or even years later. I applaud the authors of this book for removing the secrecy and stigma of suicide and giving it the forthright attention it deserves. Congratulations! An excellent book.