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When Life Loses its Meaning

Anindya Das

Edited by Updesh Kumar , Manas K. Mandal
Sage, Delhi, 2010, pp. 378, Rs. 795.00


Suicide a perplexing yet important health hazard and social problem has drawn vast interest from medical psychological and sociological spheres for a long time. In this context the edited volume under review attempts a comprehensive overview and is an important contribution to the growing literature on suicide. The editors point out the lack of literature on the psychometric basis of suicidal behaviour. The editors both from the Defence Institute of Psychological Research Defence RD Organization Delhi have long years of research experience in the field of psychology. One of the editors even specializes in the area of research on suicide and personality assessment. Both have authored important books and research papers. The volume includes chapters by researchers from various parts of the world viz. India US UK Italy Hungary Hong Kong Norway Australia and Germany having varied orientation and disciplinary backgrounds. Divided into two sections the book deals with theoretical issues related to the assessment of suicide and with practical issues on suicide in specific populations. This distinct division as Robert Hogan points out in the foreword to the book allows equal importance to be provided to both prediction and explanation which is particularly important for adequately unravelling the complexity of suicidal behaviour. It is necessary to define what is meant by suicidal behaviour. Though authors in different chapters consider suicidal behaviour a bit differently generally it includes a spectrum of conditions such as completed suicide suicide attempt suicidal ideation/thoughts of differing degree and specificity deliberate self-harm or self-injurious behaviour of varying intent and lethality. Finer differences are made by individual authors to point out the variation in research findings and their implications for risk management. The introductory chapter starts with a discussion on the proposed psychological factors etiologically associated with suicidal behaviour. Set within the overarching biopsychosocial model Rory C. Oconnor stresses on two important psychological models: escape theory and the cry of pain/entrapment model to explicate specific details of mechanisms and processes that partly help in explaining suicidal behaviour. Drawing from the two models and the related empirical work suicide is described as a response to a situation consisting of defeat no escape and no rescue; constructs that the author claims to have links to negative mood (a first order mechanism) and to the finer aspects of individual vulnerabilities (such as biased information processing and memory deficitssecond order mechanisms). The author then links these constructs to ...

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