Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In “How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me,” Susan Rose Blauner pursues a courageous and painstaking examination of a life of pain and suffering, discovery and remarkable personal growth. Bearing witness to history, culture, and personal experience is perhaps the most crucial responsibility of being human. With her willingness to disclose the details of her personal journey from despair to hope, Ms. Blauner has borne witness to a very personal struggle in a way that provides guidance to others who suffer similarly. This guide through the minefield of suicidal thoughts and impulses will inevitably save lives.
While the author provides considerable insight regarding the nature and origins of suicidal thoughts, the heart of the guide is Chapter Three, entitiled “Tricks of the Trade.” In this chapter, she offers a variety of practical steps that can be taken to overcome suicidal impulses when they occur. While every step may not appeal to everyone, there is enough variety to provide useful strategies for most people who struggle with suicide. Trick #19: Helping Others is particularly pertinent. I would add to this step imagining the possibilities for helping others in the future. Had Susan Blauner envisioned sooner the influence that she would eventually have upon so many lives, her will to live may have grown stronger years earlier. Perhaps the most crucial message of this work, then, is that it is worth going on if only to discover our capacity for bringing light into other lives.