Jennifer Michael Hecht: Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013)

Hecht - Stay
Jennifer Michael Hecht is nothing if not thorough. A few years ago I read her book “Doubt” which, like this one is primarily a history of philosophy book. Now I am an armchair philosopher, after majoring in philosophy for my undergraduate degree. I actually am interested in the history of ideas and have great admiration for the careful research and comprehensive approach that Hecht brings to her work.

But I do have to admit that this book is a little dry in some places. Still, the book is well worth reading and the information very useful. The preface tells the highly personal story of how the author got into the study of suicide and the ways in which various cultures have dealt with self-caused death. Her essay with the same title as the book has received a lot of attention in suicide prevention circles and is very touching and worth quoting.

I am grateful for the work that has gone into this volume. I wouldn’t label it an easy read, either intellectually or emotionally, but it is a critical subject and one worthy of such a complete review by such an exemplary scholar. Every college library should have a copy and the book would be a good textbook both for philosophy classes and for psychology classes examining the subject of suicide.