The Tragedy of Hopelessness

Since the early 1960s there has been an enormous increase in the numbers of cases of suicide, self-mutilation and depression, adolescents and the elderly being high-risk groups. Suicidal behaviour has become a major health-care issue.

David Aldridge argues that although western culture has traditionally understood suicide to be the choice of the individual, this is a misleading perception. While the patient may feel as though he or she is acting in isolation, the reasons for suicide and self-mutilation are essentially social. Attention should therefore be focused to a far greater extent on the patient's social environment, and any treatment should also involve the family. Drawing on case studies as well as research statistics, Aldridge constructs a background against which suicidal behaviour can be perceived not as irrational and unpredictable, but as an understandable response to social disruption, isolation, conflict and neglect. He investigates the complex web of prejudices surrounding our society's view of suicide, and looks at ways of developing more effective preventative strategies.
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