Making Sense of Suicide: An In-depth Look at Why People Kill Themselves

David Lester, PhD

"David Lester, the author of numerous articles and books about suicide and murder examines here the "pervasiveness and seriousness" of attempted and completed suicides so that readers will "seek information on their own and make sure they learn how to correctly responding" to suicidal behavior.

"The chapter divisions and straightforward style make this an ideal starting place for higher-level students in search of an overview of current suicide research and statistics. Lester discusses suicide as it relates to heredity and environment, mental illness, personality and even the significance (of lack thereof) of time, season and weather on suicide rates. He includes an extensive bibliography for each chapter, offering an excellent jumping-off place for further research. There is also an annotated list of Internet sites and organizations that focus on suicide.

"The author’s style —didactic rather than emotional — is aimed at those seeking facts, not solace. Current, well documented and thought provoking, this book will make a useful addition to large public and academic libraries."

Library Journal

"David Lester’s book does just what the title implies — it provides the reader with an up-to-date and cogent understanding of suicidal behavior. Lester’s well-formed conclusions serve the serious student well. The volume is also accessible for the general public, correcting misperceptions including that it is pointless or impossible to understand why people destroy themselves."

— Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

"Well organized, easy to read and understand. I would recommend this book for acquisition by public and college libraries and for reading by anyone with an intest in suicide."


"In this book, Lester uses research synopses along with narratives to connect the research findings and his personal observations, thereby giving the information more vitality, particularly for students, teachers, crisis workers and other persons who want to learn more about suicidal behavior but who have had less exposure to the research information. Lester’s book succeeds admirably in demonstrating that research, awareness and prevention and intervention tactics are intertwined."


"David Lester pulls together research findings on the topic of suicide from a number of different sources and thus provides a thorough overview of suicidal behavior. When finished with the book, the reader will have a good understanding of the types of people who are at greatest risk for suicide, the warning signs of impending suicide and what can be done to intervene."

— Death Studies

Features: The author aims to interpret and integrate research on suicidal behavior, particularly motives for suicidal behavior, to provide an encyclopedic reference volume and to summarize facts everyone should know to optimize suicide prevention efforts. Most books about the problem of suicide fail to achieve the smooth integration of studies and facts achieved in this book. There is important place for books that attempt to synthesize knowledge about suicidal behavior. The volume tends toward shallow coverage of clinical matters, such as the recognition of suicide risk, evaluation of suicide potential and the treatment and management of suicidal patients.

Purpose: This book is designed as a general reference resource for the layperson. Medical students may find it useful as an introduction to the field of suicide. Psychiatric and emergency medicine specialists will find that the book lacks the clinical focus and breadth that might aid them in clinical decision-making. Yet the material covered tends to be authoritative. Dr. Lester is a productive investigator and writer who has made valuable contribution to the field of suicide studies.

Audience: The book is organized well. The author provides very thought coverage of a broad range of epidemiological and sociological issues. The index is useful. There are not figures to help the reader digest the fascinating complexity of epidemiological trends and so the reader is deprived of the great variety of insightful illustrations that could orient the newcomer to the field.

Assessment: In this lucid and far-ranging resource book, Dr. Lester provides the layperson with a marvelous synthesis of knowledge gleaned from a multitude of studies reported over decades. Although the medical professional may not find guidance for making clinical decisions in the volume, the book does constitute an articulate introduction to the broad context of suicidal studies and suicidal behavior and may be useful as a supplement to more psychiatric reference resources."

Doody's Health Sciences Review