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A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide [Paperback]

Colin Murray Parkes , Alison Wertheimer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 3 Jan 1991 --  
There is a newer edition of this item:
A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide, 2e A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide, 2e 4.7 out of 5 stars (9)
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Book Description

3 Jan 1991
This book is written by a survivor of suicide. Alison Wertheimer lost her own sister by suicide, but she has not made the mistake of assuming that this makes her an expert on the subject. Her expertise comes from very wide reading and from the systematic interviews she has carried out with fifty other people who have been bereaved by suicide.. She is to be congratulated on drawing all these strands together into a volume which will be of value to members of caring professions, counsellors, and friends of those bereaved by suicide, as well as the bereaved survivors themselves.' - Dr Colin Murray Parkes, author of Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, Routledge 1986 Every year more than 8,000 people in Britain take their own lives. But what happens to their families and friends - the survivors of suicide? Because of the stigma attached to suicide, they have remained a largely hidden group, yet there are likely to be more than 80,000 new survivors annually, people whose lives have been profoundly affected by the suicide of someone close to them. A Special Scar is the first book by a British author to describe the experiences of survivors of suicide, including the parents, children, siblings and spouses of suicide victims. It reveals the particular problems which this group of bereaved people face: the stress of coping with the police, with post-mortems, inquests, and the resulting media publicity; the negative attitudes of friends and the community at large; the survivor's own feelings of shame and stigma; and the guilt and anger which many experience. A final chapter and resource section suggests how survivors can be helped and supported by those around them.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (3 Jan 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415017637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415017633
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 678,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The first edition of this important book opened our eyes to the special needs of people bereaved by suicide. Since that time the author and others have increased our understanding of these needs and helped to develop services to meet them. In this second edition she has drawn on this knowledge and experience to augment and enhance the foundation which she laid... a volume which will be of value to members of caring professions, counsellors and other bereavement service providers.' - Colin Murray Parkes, in his Foreword. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alison Wertheimer has been working as a freelance writer and researcher since 1987, after working in the voluntary sector for twenty years. She has a private counselling practice, is a supervisor with a bereavement counselling service and runs workshops on the impact of suicide bereavement. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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The idea that a person chooses to die creates in us a profound sense of unease. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful book, a revelation 10 Nov 1999
By A Customer
I lost my mother to suicide 18 years ago. At that point I was aged 7. As a child I was shielded from the shock I suppose, but as children do, I picked up alot of information from the adults around me. After 17 years of struggling with the weight of the bereavement on my shoulders I decided to seek help. I was given "A special scar" by a counsellor and while reading it had revelation after revelation. To realise that I was not the only one suffering from intense grief and pain, was amazing. By talking to others and sharing my experiences and feelings, things somehow began to make sense again, even after all those years. I do not pretend that the journey through grief has been easy, I do feel you get out what you put in and it is by no means over yet. My lost loved one will always be in my memory but I feel I've found the courage to move on with my life. Alison Wertheimer's book is very helpful on a pratical, as well as an emotional level. The stories of other survivor's help to ease the isolation often suffered by this type of bereavement. It is particularly helpful when the shock of a loved one's suicide begin's to wear off and the feelings are being faced. The most inportant message given in the book is you are not alone!
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different book for each different stage 24 Feb 2009
My 21 year old brother hanged himself 2 1/2 years ago. I read No time to say goodbye by Carla Fine in the week afterwards and it made me realise that I was not alone and allowed me to release some of my grief. I read The suicidal Mind by Edwin S Sneideman just under a year after he died and this was fantastic in helping me process the Why? Why? Why???!!!! questions going around and around my head and put them to rest. I wouldn't recommend this too soon after the suicide of a loved one because it is difficult, if not cathartic, to deal with how they have suffered. Finally I read A Special Scar: The Experiences of people bereaved by suicide at the 2nd anniversary which covered a large range of different issues in relation to suicide and helped me consider how I was coping in a great deal of areas. This book, whilst factual and highly relevant was again better to read a while after my brother's death because in the height of my emotion I wouldn't have been able to cope with a "textbook" on suicide helpful for health care professionals as this would have seemed too clinical. A book can't make your grief go away or replace good anti-depressants/counselling but it can help channel that grief and give you time for personal contemplation and reflexion. If you have been recently been bereaved or not I would recommend all three of these texts for different reasons and at different stages. If you are recently bereaved and you are reading this take care of yourself and know that you are not alone and despite being through hell and back 2 1/2 years on I can honestly say that I am happy again. The pain will never go away but you will make it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source of comfort and understanding. 28 Nov 2005
By A Customer
I bought this book following the suicide of my ex partner. For me the book has been a lifesaving source of comfort and information. The book has really helped reduce my feelings of isolation and provided such relief by detailing the experiences and feelings of others following a suicide. It has helped me realise that I am not alone and that my feelings are not odd or unusual and are shared with many others. It has also helped me understand the enormity of the event and the ongoing impact this has in life - especially important over time when life around begins to return to its usual pattern. I am still reading and getting comfort from this book many months after my loss.Highly recommended.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must for those affected by suicide 29 Jan 2002
By A Customer
A long and difficult search for a book that discussed the 'fall-out' after suicide, came to an end when I found this book. It has practical advice regarding dealing with police, coronors, inquests and a detailed section on the emotions you are likely to encounter. Bereavement by suicide is such a traumatic and 'taboo' situation that it is a godsend someone has written a book like this. It covers all those questions you want to ask, but may be too afraid to. The best thing about this book was reading how other people felt - that I was not alone. Also it is a great relief to know that all the intense and overwhelming emotions I went through were 'normal' and that I was not going completely mad. Your heart will break while reading this, but it certainly helped me to face my loss head on and ride the waves instead of fighting them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book explains both the practicalities that need to be dealt with and some of the 'why' does it happen. The author is a suicide survivor and the text discusses the issues and experiences of other suicide survivors as well as practicalities like inquests, grief and support. Because it combines the two, it is not an afternoon read. But each chapter is self contained and manageable and the chapters do not need to be read in order.

For a more compact version try 'Coping with Suicide' by Maggie Helen.
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