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Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  34 reviews
For much of his thirties, Jesse Bering thought he was probably going to kill himself. He was a successful psychologist and writer, with books to his name and bylines in major magazines. But none of that mattered. The impulse to take his own life remained. At times it felt all but inescapable.
Bering survived. And in addition to relief, the fading of his suicidal thoughts
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by University of Chicago Press
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Evelyn Roberts They are called libraries. Authors dedicate their lives to writing and like the rest of us need to make money. Often local libraries will put in a…moreThey are called libraries. Authors dedicate their lives to writing and like the rest of us need to make money. Often local libraries will put in a special request. (less)
Chloë You should try "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig. It talks about the brain and what triggers depression and anxiety as well as his own experience…moreYou should try "Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig. It talks about the brain and what triggers depression and anxiety as well as his own experience with depression and suicidal thoughts. (less)

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Valerity (Val)
– All the inconveniences in the world are not considerable enough that a man should die to evade them; and, besides, there being so many, so sudden and unexpected changes in human things, it is hard rightly to judge when we are at the end of our hope…

Michel de Montaigne, A Custom of the Isle of Cea (1574)

This is quite a good book on the topic of suicide, which seems to be a hot topic this year, with all of the people we have lost to it...think of all the big names that have taken their lives rec
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves by Jesse Bering is a study of suicide and with explanations and theories. Bering is an award-winning science writer specializing in evolutionary psychology and human behavior. His “Bering in Mind” column at Scientific American was a 2010 Webby Award Honoree for the Blog-Cultural category by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Bering’s first book, The Belief Instinct (2011), was included on the American Library Association’s Top 25 Books of the ...more
As a gifted academic, research psychologist and professor at Otago University (New Zealand) Jesse Bering is a bestselling author, his books have been translated in several languages. In “Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves” Bering delves into what he calls the “specter of suicide”-- among the darkest moments of the human condition. With about one million deaths (globally) each year, it is important to understand suicidal ideation in its various forms and patterns, the heartbreak and grief of survivo ...more
Rob Sica
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As an academic librarian with some familiarity with current scholarship on suicide (through both my research assistance and my recreational interest), I unreservedly and enthusiastically recommend this superbly written, scientifically informed, and richly insightful book accessible to a wide and varied readership. Whether you are fortunate enough to have only a casual or more distantly philosophical interest in the topic, or have been personally touched or harrowed by suicide in the various ways ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bam, in your face. Wat een rit was dit boek zeg, van de psychologische benadering van zelfmoord tot zeer persoonlijke verhalen van mensen die zelfmoord pleegden. Nogmaals, verplichte kost voor psychologen, maar niet voor iedereen weggelegd.
Mrs. Europaea
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Suicidal, Bering discusses the risk factors of suicide via psychological, sociological, and biological theories. The psychological theories focused on the functioning of the human mind by examining thoughts, emotions, behaviors, etc., while his research on biological theories of suicide are derived from the understanding of suicide behaviors and attempts as they relate to the functioning of the human body was most intriguing as well.

Bering discusses how the importance of suicide theories cann
Diane Hernandez
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Theories abound, but few conclusions are reached in the interesting, but ultimately disappointing, Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves.

Recently, there has been a spate of celebrity suicides: Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and Avicii (Tim Bergling). Despite having an outwardly successful life, these people, and many others over the years felt that suicide was the best choice. Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves attempts to answer that question using scientific studies and the author’s own suicidal tendenci
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have you thought about suicide? Have you been affected by suicide? Are you just interested in what causes suicide and what makes some people more susceptible than others? If so, this is an excellent book for you. The book covers:

• A brief overview of how genetics and differences in VENs (contributing to our ability to think about what others think of us) in the brain contribute to suicidal ideation.
• Parasuicide and theory of mind (attempting to figure out what the individual was thinking prior
Neil H
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I half expected this book to be a frivolous read. I admit bias when the author confesses his literary work with such lurid names as Why Is a Penis Shaped Like That amongst others. But as one of many others who have a history of addiction, mental and suicidal thoughts. I thought this might come in handy with understanding the profundity of taking one's life. Jesse writes and I agree that aside from morality, religious or libertarian we have an immense history of self harm and for loads of fathoma ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one.
Have you ever talked with someone and you never knew exactly what they were getting at, or how what they were talking about was related? If yes, then you know how this book will read. While reading this book I could never really understand what the author's conclusion was at the end of each chapter, what the content in the chapter related to each other in the chapter, and sometimes how the chapter was related to suicide. The author, who said this in the beginning of the book, cherry-picked data, ...more
Maddy Reid
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In A Very Human Ending: How suicide haunts our species, Jesse Bering attempts to unravel the seemingly impenetrable mind of the suicidal individual through psychological, biological, evolutionary and sociological exploratory lenses, but perhaps most emotively, through personal testimonies. Exploring Roy Baumeister's stages of suicidality, Bering presents the story of Victoria-a seventeen-year-old who took her own life-in her own candid words taken from her diary, correlating each step with chron ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves by psychologist Jesse Bering is an attempt to make sense of the complex phenomenon of suicide from a variety of different angles including psychological, biological, spiritual, and evolutionary.  The author admits that he takes an intellectualized, scientific perspective to try to gain a broader understanding, and he does a good job of examining both the strengths and weaknesses of various ideas on the subject.  He encourages the reader to set preconceptions aside ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One would think that this is a depressing subject to read about and it is, but it is also a very important one to gain some insights in, especially since no one is immune to it. Just think Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It is also a problem for students of all ages - a reason why I am so interested in it. This books looks at the history of suicide, how various religions view it and provides the reader with insights into how the suicidal mind works. He also makes a compelling argument for the e ...more
As someone who has been directly affected by suicide, even 30 years later I (and I know my parents do) still try to make sense of why my brother would deliberately end his own life. This book investigates the possible reasons including biological and cultural. I found the step-by-step theory as to how this can happen very credible. When someone kills themselves its usually followed by well they must have been mentally ill (depressed, etc.) but I've not always believed it. Sometimes it can be a d ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bering allows his intellectual curiosity and intimate feelings to interact - in print. A courageous writer always ready to put himself in the context of being an individual animal in an evolving population in an apparently infinite and ultimately incomprehensible universe. He is nevertheless committed to finding out where reason will take him. Always worth reading!

As I lost a brother to suicide, and have considered it myself, this topic is of great interest. Although I am in favour of assisted
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A very good albeit terrifying read that examines the reasons, biological, social, moral, and historical, that people have to end their lives. The downward spiral that leads to suicide is a frighteningly easy one to slip down; many of the descriptions of the thought processes and perceptions rang true for me since I've experienced at least the beginnings of that spiral only a few years ago. This book is more story-like in that it uses the author's experiences and anecdotal evidence a lot, but doe ...more
V Mignon
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely more on this later, but Jesse Bering's Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves is a fascinating collection of possible reasons. There are no answers in this book, and perhaps for some that will be discomforting. I found it exactly as Bering said, that to understand some of the more scientific facts about suicide help you out in those rough waters.

One particular note on this book is Bering's writing, which utilizes humor at the best opportunities. This makes it easier, to read about some of t
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very confronting text but still manages to find just enough humor to make this a great read. If you're looking for a self-help book on suicide, this is probably not the book for you. However if you want direct and no BS you will be richly rewarded by reading this. Beware the author is atheist and does not believe in the afterlife so for religious people this book well may offend. For me I found it got under my skin and left me thinking for some time afterward which is my measure of an important ...more
Heather Milewski
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: duds
I am so disappointed to only give this a low rating because I was looking forward to reading it for months. I rarely buy books but I wanted to read this while on Christmas break so bad I did. My main problem with the book was the overuse of footnotes. I love me a good footnote but when they are on EVERY OTHER page it is incredible distracting. I did enjoy the facts and statistics and found this portion of the book incredibly useful for my line of work.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book covers a lot of interesting territory but doesn't often summarize various lines of inquiry or clearly explain conclusions. The best (and most impactful) section was on the mindset progression of someone about to act on suicidal intentions - like ingredients in a 'cocktail' which proceed the event. Also good was the author's personal revelations and relationship to suicide which kept the book relatable and personal.
Emma Pulling
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book seems to me like the author had a word limit to hit so he just wrote about random stuff in places. However, I do think everyone should give this book a read, especially the chapter about a young girl named Vic. Beautifully written
Cindy Hall
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing by my mate Jesse about a very difficult and complex topic. Take your time with this one -- especially the chapter about the young woman Vic.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting look but a lot of good points.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
This book was jarring and very difficult to read at times. It was also however very good. It was well researched and had a nice mix of anecdotes, scientific data and studies, and philosophy.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Sacksian investigation into suicide that is not just timely, but necessary, vital, groundbreaking and wholly awe-some.

Ruth Cierkens
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interessante kijk op een heel interessant thema. Heel nuchter geschreven, verschillende visies die aanbod komen en wetenschappelijk onderbouwd. Boeiend!
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lucid and elegant. It feels thorough somehow. It avoids preaching about prevention and carefully and gently explores the context. I'd like to see more on the topic from a civil rights perspective.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding, timely book on an important subject. Dr. Bering does an excellent job of summarizing what we know about suicide while weaving in his own struggles with suicidal ideation. Research results are outlined and complemented by relevant experiences, including current media (e.g., 13 Reasons Why) and the journal entries and notes left by people who died by suicide. It was especially helpful to read two chapters focused on the 1990 research of Roy Baumeister on why people die by suicide (i.e ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I read this. It's hard to review, because despite the authors conversational tone it really is half novel and half dissertation. Jesse Bering as both author and narrator got on my nerves sometimes with the lengthy anecdotes that sometimes felt off topic and unnecessary. But reading about Vic, in particular reading the poetry she wrote before she died, made me cry, so, there's that too. This book is extremely relevant and if you, like I was when I saw this in the bookshop, are still wond ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
Why do we kill ourselves is one of the most difficult questions to both ask and answer. In Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves Jesse Bering dares to do both. Bering is unflinching in looking at all aspects of suicide, including his own suicidal past.

Bering examines suicide from every different angle possible, from why humans might kill themselves from an evolutionary theory to what a suicidal person is thinking as they make the lethal decision to take their own life. While Bering is a scientist and
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Jesse Bering is a research psychologist and Director of the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

An award-winning science writer specializing in human behaviour, his first book, The Belief Instinct (2011), was included on the American Library Association’s Top 25 Books of the Year. This was followed by a collection of his previously published essays,