What I have learned from my suicidal patients


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When I think of the hundreds of patients I have heard speak of suicide over the past 20 years, whether their own or that of others, and I imagine all those I will no doubt hear in the years of medical practice to come, what seems of most help is not an unwarranted optimism, or a belief that suicide can be right or that it is always wrong, but our flawed human capacity to hold mutually contradictory beliefs and voice them with conviction. When the task in hand is to convince a suicidal patient there is value and purpose in life, then thoughts of suicide are best framed as a shared enemy, a corruption of reality, a manifestation of illness – something to be reasoned away, or quelled with medication. But for the families of the dead, who sit later in the same consulting room, those metaphors of distortion and disease can be unhelpful, even hurtful, and what best replaces them are metaphors of victory and redemption, of suffering followed by release.

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Gavin Francis — The Guardian

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Did 13 Reasons Why Spark a Suicide Contagion Effect?


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There is a debate going on whether the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why should have depicted suicide the way it did.

The study, while troubling, is not entirely surprising. In May, I examined how 13 Reasons Why managed to break virtually every rule that exists when it comes to portraying suicide, featuring a graphic, prolonged scene of the main character’s death in the final episode and glamorizing it as a force for positive change in her community. One of the biggest concerns among psychologists and educators was that the show might spark a contagion effect, where increased coverage of suicide in the media leads to a related increase in suicide attempts. Netflix doesn’t release data regarding its viewing figures, but the wide discussion of the show on social media (it became the most-tweeted about show of 2017) implies that a significant number of people watched it, particularly teenagers. The rush to produce a follow-up season (currently being filmed and scheduled for a 2018 release) indicates the show has been a big hit for the streaming service.

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Sophie Gilbert — The Atlantic

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How real should representations of suicide be?


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A serious reflection on suicide. A tough topic to read about, but nevertheless an important one.

Thinking of my family’s predicament, I am reminded of what Siddhartha Mukherjee, a Bengali man like me, wrote for the New Yorker in March in his gorgeous frankenstein of personal essay and scientific reportage, “Runs in the Family”: “Madness has been among the Mukherjees for generations … and at least part of my father’s reluctance to accept [his nephew’s] diagnosis lies in a grim suspicion that something of the illness may be buried, like toxic waste, in himself.”

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Mayukh Sen — Real Life

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