Re-printed from New Paradigm, the journal of VICSERV Psychiatric Disability Services (Summer 2010/11 edition, page 70)

Thinking About Suicide: Contemplating
and comprehending the urge to die
By David Webb, PCCS Book Ltd,
Herefordshire, UK, 2010

A first in the field of suicidology, Thinking About Suicide uses the first person experience to reflect upon and facilitate better understanding of the meaning of suicide. An extension of David Webb’s PhD thesis, this text considers the reasons why the first person voice has been largely ignored in discourses on suicide and draws on the author’s own experiences in contemplating and comprehending his urge to die.

The differing approaches of the mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors to treatment are analysed with the author concluding that the former has a lot to learn from the latter. The text contains a critique of what is viewed as the medicalisation of suicide and offers an alternative explanation: ‘that suicide is best understood as a crisis of the self’, [p 10]. Through this lens, a greater appreciation can be gained of what it means for a person to contemplate suicide as well as the need to rethink current approaches to prevention.

In that vein, the author considers spiritual self-inquiry being the key to defining the sense of self. The question of ‘Who am I?’ is fundamental to the spiritual inquiry. What more, explanations given by biological psychiatry, psychology and post-modern ideas are viewed as failing to satisfactorily explain the sense of self.

Thinking About Suicide deals with the topic of suicide in a manner that is honest and respectful to those who have contemplated suicide. With the first person experience given prominence, Webb has established a precedent for the subjective experience to be seen as a valid experience.