Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against it.pdf
Many thousands of people kill themselves every year, and many more are left behind to grieve. Distressing statistics show that suicide rates are rising, and studies confirm that suicide causes more suicide, both among those who knew the person and even among strangers who feel some connection. In this highly original book Jennifer Michael Hecht channels her grief for two friends lost to suicide into a search for history's most persuasive arguments against the irretrievable act. Hecht recounts individual suicide cases from the Bible and ancient Greeks to the present day and analyzes how ideas about suicide have changed over time. She explains several puzzling aspects of attitudes toward suicide, including the strange fact that secular philosophy has long been associated with a pro-suicide attitude. In our own times, when the influence of religious prohibitions has waned, Hecht finds that we lack shared, secular, logical arguments against suicide. But there are such arguments, and she focuses new attention on these forgotten ideas that offer hope in the face of despair and powerful reasons to stay when suicide seems a tempting choice.
"'Full of life and spirit and hope, and deeply moving, it communicates a generous love of suffering, flawed humanity. I cannot praise it highly enough.' (Bel Mooney, Daily Mail) 'One cannot but be impressed by Hecht's breadth of knowledge, mostly expressed with a light touch, and there are many fascinating details." (Oliver James, The Independent) 'Hecht's intentions are patently generous and benign. She wants to save young lives that seem needlessly lost... On these counts her book merits praise.' (John Carey, The Sunday Times) 'Hecht's aim is to show that as suicide was secularised, it became too easy - a mere medical and therefore solipsistic condition which took no account of humans as members of a larger (caring) community. She wants to revitalise the idea that suicide is wrong, harms others and 'damages humanity'. No man or woman, even today, is an island.' (Lisa Appignanesi, The Observer)"
Jennifer Michael Hecht is the author of three history books, including the best-selling Doubt: A History, and three volumes of poetry. Her work has won major awards in intellectual history and in poetry. Hecht teaches poetry at the New School University in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn, NY.