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Kay, J. (1989). Chapter 10 Self-Psychological Perspectives on Suicide. Progress in Self Psychology, 5:169-186.

(1989). Progress in Self Psychology, 5:169-186

Chapter 10 Self-Psychological Perspectives on Suicide

Jerald Kay, M.D.

There is perhaps no more timely yet enigmatic topic in clinical psychiatry than that of suicide. Our attention has been drawn repeatedly to the dramatic fact that suicide among the young in the United States has tripled in the past 30 years (Holden, 1986). In young people aged 15-24, suicide ranks second as cause of death. Not only the young take their own lives; people over 65 constitute 11% of our population yet are responsible for approximately 25% of all suicides. With more than 29,000 suicides, and 300,000 attempted suicides, each year in this country, many persons are significantly affected by the suicide or attempted suicide of someone for whom they care (Hirschfeld and Davidson, 1988).

With a more comprehensive understanding of childhood depression, an increasing number of articles have appeared recently on child as well as adolescent suicide (e.g. Pfeffer, 1986; Klerman, 1986). Adolescent suicide contagion in general and the impact of the media on imitative teen suicide in particular have also received a great deal of scientific attention (Gould and Shaffer, 1986; Phillips and Carstensen, 1986).

Societal values with respect to death and suicide have changed.

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