Cover Image: How Not to Kill Yourself

How Not to Kill Yourself

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Member Reviews

I think this book is too long, like way way way too long. I'm glad such a book exists, and I think it's in many ways fascinating. I'm not sure if this book would be better (or worse?) for someone not so familiar with suicide, but I'm not that person. A totally fine book but all-over-the-place and could have been edited way down without losing value IMO. I did not finish it before the archive date.

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This was so different from anything I’ve ever read, and absolutely enthralling. I had to take breaks because it is heavy, but I learned a lot.

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How Not to Kill Yourself is a surprising, honest account of a college instructor's journey through suicide attempts. Clancy Martin has had three wives and fathered five children, as he slogged through alcoholism, suicidal thoughts, and his teaching schedule. Martin uses the outline of his philosophy class with many references to Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud and poets such as Sexton and Dickenson to toss quotes into stories about his suicide attempts. This is an odd memoir but highly recommended for discussion groups and guaranteed to create a lively discussion.

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An eye-opening memoir of a professor who suffers from suicidal thoughts, attempts and addiction. This books shows that you are not alone and it's possible to overcome your ideations. It's extremely longwinded, however its necessary to understand the dynamics of the processes at work.

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"How Not to Kill Yourself" by Clancy Martin is a candid and empathetic exploration of the struggles that many individuals face, and a beacon of hope for those seeking solace and understanding. Martin's writing is refreshingly honest, providing a rare glimpse into the complexities of mental health, addiction, and the human experience.

The book's strength lies in Martin's ability to combine his own personal experiences with a profound understanding of the human condition. He approaches the topic with a delicate balance of vulnerability and wisdom, creating a narrative that is both relatable and deeply resonant. The author's honesty in sharing his own struggles fosters a sense of connection with the reader, and his compassionate tone offers reassurance to those who may be facing similar challenges.

Throughout the book, Martin dispenses practical advice without veering into prescriptive or judgmental territory. Instead, he offers a nuanced perspective on coping mechanisms, self-reflection, and seeking help when needed. This approach empowers the reader to take agency over their own journey towards healing and self-discovery.

Martin's writing style is clear and accessible, making the book a valuable resource for individuals from all walks of life. He avoids jargon and instead communicates his message with straightforward language, ensuring that the book remains approachable and impactful.

While the title may be provocative, "How Not to Kill Yourself" is ultimately a celebration of life, resilience, and the potential for growth and transformation. It serves as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is hope and the possibility for positive change.

In conclusion, Clancy Martin's "How Not to Kill Yourself" is a compassionate and thought-provoking guide for anyone grappling with the complexities of mental health and personal struggles. Martin's candid storytelling and empathetic approach make this book an invaluable resource for those in need of support, understanding, and a reminder that they are not alone in their journey. It is a beacon of hope and a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

I was provided an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review

Title: How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind by Clancy Martin

Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology, Mental Health

Rating: 3.75 Stars

I wanted to mention before getting into my review that the reason I requested How Not to Kill Yourself on NetGalley was because I have a personal history with the subject and was fascinated to see the thoughts and perspective of someone else who has been in the same situation. I also want to mention that despite the introduction to the book being quite long, don’t skip it, since it gives us some vital background information on the author for their history with alcohol and substance abuse as well as their history of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation which are key to understanding a lot of the point that Martin is going to make through the book.

Part One really focuses on Clancy Martin’s story, from how he began to have suicidal thoughts and ideation at a really young age to his first attempt in his teens. Martin had a tough childhood which a lot of people can relate to with some abusive elements to those relationships. He also had siblings that committed suicide and struggled with self-harm which might have added to this ideation in his formative years. However, Martin makes it clear he seems to be an outlier in the fact, that there wasn’t a distinct catalyst that led to his suicide attempts but rather there had been a lingering fascination and obsession with suicide from his childhood. As he got older and struggled to keep control of his depression, he turned to abusing alcohol and substances like cocaine which led to breakdowns of relationships which only increased his depressive and suicidal thoughts.

Martin does look into some of the psychology behind this but focuses more on himself and other people he has met with similar stories at the moment. Learning about his life and the lives of the people he has meet, known and interviewed over the years really brings a lot of information to light on how the social stigma around suicide relates to the ever increasing suicide rate. In the USA at the time of writing the book the suicide rate was equal to what it was during the Great Depression with those at highest risk of suicide being middle aged white men. Martin also shares his stories of being hospitalized and therapy and how most of the time these didn’t help only made him more secretive about those feelings and attempts but one thing that did help was speaking to others like himself and writing about those feelings. This is something I can personally relate to and I bet a lot of other people can as well and while I am feeling more stable than I have in the past decade I know it doesn’t take much to slide back into those habits. I also really liked the fact that Martin sees suicide as a compulsion rather than a conscious choice which is why most people can’t give a definite reason for their attempts because it could be something small that ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to mental health and balancing on that scale.

Part Two begins to touch on more of psychological topics that might lead someone to have suicidal ideation. As Martin himself states, he was brought up in a turbulent home with a step father who wasn’t the best and personally experienced a sibling committing suicide and another attempting which all had a huge impact on him. Martin beings to expand on the philosophical argument for and against suicide, the obvious one is things are never as bad as they seem in those moments of panic but there is far more to this than meets the eye. Some of the argument he goes into include the right to die with dignity in the case of those that have terminal illness and how mental illness could be classified under this but has some ethical issues that would need to be overcome. Another argument goes into the freedom of choice and how people shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed because of that choice and he provides several examples here. Martin also looks into suicide pacts but these often turn out to be coercive and more harmful than they initially seem.

The third act of the book blends together the elements of philosophy and psychology that Martin has presented throughout. As he covers the different types of suicidal people, himself included among them, he presented way that they can help themselves and how others can support them. One issues I had with the book was it was extremely long especially for the genre but it was interesting. Martin intrigued me with his dialogues on Thanatos, forms of suicide and literature relating to death and why this issue isn’t openly discussed even in the modern world we live in. Martin even goes into the discussion about whether suicide is based on the theory that death releases people from suffering or whether it’s narcissistic in nature. However, reader must be aware that this book doesn’t take a neutral stance on suicide given the author’s close relationship with the topic and might be harmful to people already in a suicidal mindset. Overall, it was an intriguing read but long and difficult to get through at times.

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In "How Not to Kill Yourself," Clancy Martin offers a deeply personal and profound exploration of the intricate relationship between the human mind and the ever-compelling thought of suicide.

Martin's writing delves into the heart of a subject that is often shrouded in silence and stigma, examining why the thought of death can be so compelling for some while ultimately providing hope and alternative solutions. His book stands as a beacon of light, dispelling the darkness that often surrounds discussions of suicide.

In this memoir, Martin courageously shares his own experiences, revealing that he has survived over ten suicide attempts throughout his life. He takes us on an intimate journey, detailing his mindset and the emotional turmoil that led to these desperate moments. He argues that suicide attempts are rarely impulsive acts, but rather the result of deep-rooted issues that have festered over time. Martin's willingness to expose his own struggles and vulnerabilities in this narrative is both courageous and honest.

What sets "How Not to Kill Yourself" apart is its examination of the broader cultural and historical context of suicide. Martin explores the experiences of well-known writers who have grappled with suicidal thoughts, shedding light on their inner battles. He delves into the history of philosophy's nuanced relationship with suicide, providing a comprehensive view of the subject.

Throughout the book, Martin emphasises that the desire to end one's life, like other self-destructive tendencies, is not a permanent state. He offers hope to those who may be grappling with suicidal thoughts, assuring them that there is another way. His writing serves as a reminder that, even in the darkest of times, there is always the potential for healing and recovery.

"How Not to Kill Yourself" is a powerful testament to resilience and the human capacity for change. Clancy Martin's brave and unflinching account offers solace and understanding to those who may have experienced similar struggles. It stands as a valuable resource for individuals navigating the complex terrain of mental health and suicide, as well as for anyone seeking a compassionate and illuminating perspective on this challenging topic.

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Clancy Martin offers an inward look at the thoughts and feelings of someone who has suicidal ideation in "How Not to Kill Yourself." This is a courageous book to write, as it shares the turmoil and suffering of a mind dealing with torturous thoughts of self-annihilation. Martin writes with such truthfulness from his own experiences and research about the drive to end one's life. This book is a gift for those who are working to understand the inner workings of mental illness. Martin's memoir offers hope and advice for how to help others heal the wounds of trauma and survive the depths of darkness.

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Thank you so much to netgalley for the ARC. I had been holding off on writing this review for a view reasons
1. It was a long book and took me a bit to get through it.
2. Suicide itself is a tough topic for me BUT the book was not as doom and gloom as I thought.
3. I needed to sit on the book for a bit before I could actually write a review.

Even now, a few months later, I'm still not sure how to review the book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great as far as I thought. As I said it is a tough subject and Martin approached it in the best way he knew how, but I still think it missed its mark.

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So many times we're given preventative messages without the understanding of why people turn to suicide. I find this refreshing because there is a weird, almost soothing, moment when you are contemplating the end of your life and you're not afraid. I appreciate that this book exists because it allows readers who have had those intrusive thoughts to further analyze them on their own.

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This was a great read for suicide awareness week. Clancy Martin presents a really unique view on the topic, and I think provides great understanding for those who have lost friends or family members to suicide.
I think the subtitle of this book should've been the title. This very much is a "portrait of the suicidal mind," rather than a how-to guide. While I didn't expect a literal how-to guide based on the current title, I do think the current title appeals to the wrong audience. If you're at a point where you're seeking a literal how-to guide, this book, with its very long, drawn-out meditations on killing yourself, feels like it could put you in a darker place. Although Clancy acknowledges this and provides resources, the title feels like it went for shock value over the very important task of reaching the correct audience.

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This was a book that I wasn't quite sure I wanted to read while at the same time, wanted to read it. And it will be one that isn't for some while exactly what others are looking for. It's long, much longer than I thought it would be considering. And at times a little frazzled but then again, in certain states of mind most of us are frazzled. Obviously, this book focuses on suicide.... those who have been suicidal, have felt suicidal, for loved ones, etc. Yes, for some it will be too much but for others, it's helpful and perhaps will help a few not feel so alone at times. Give it a try.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for providing me with an ARC copy.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I approached this book thinking it would be helpful as someone who has been passively suicidal myself and seen many loved ones attempt suicide. The author comes off as a pretentious philosopher who uses old quotes to justify his bad behavior. He admits to using suicide "attempts" to manipulate loved ones into doing what he wants, like after a breakup to win them back or after he physically abused his wife. I have a very hard time sympathizing with him, or his experiences, given that he talks so nonchalantly about his abusive actions.

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This book was long winded, but provided a lot of great resources for someone not well versed in the topic. I would say for people who are familiar with the topic and looking for a memoir this might be too much. I thought that it would be a helpful read for someone looking for more information on the topic as it really covers all the bases.

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I listened to the authors advice and if you don’t find this book helpful then don’t read it. To me, this is just not the right time for this book. Hopefully, one day I am able to read it fully because I did find it interesting and useful.

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This is an honest and insightful book that offers the author's experience and advice. It's somewhat repetitive though, and was a little disorganized which made it hard to follow. It could be a good resource for those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts but it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

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I really hate to rate a memoir so low, but I have to DNF this book. I’m not enjoying it at all; it’s very disorganized & repetitive. I feel like a good editor could’ve made it more concise.

I requested this book on NetGalley because I work in psychiatry & was hoping to have another book to refer patients to. I will not be recommending this book.

Thank you NetGalley & to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Clancy Martin has attempted to take his own life more than ten times over the years. This work of nonfiction is semi-autobiographical with many quotes and “case studies” interspersed throughout. Quotes from Freud, artists and authors who have attempted or committed suicide, and philosophers are present throughout the book. The case studies generally revolve around an author or famous person who has committed suicide (e.g., Anthony Bourdain) and often have other relevant data included.

This is a difficult read for me to rate and evaluate. I requested to read this because I’ve had several people close to me commit suicide, and I was interested to gain some insight and understanding from this book. Unfortunately, I feel that the author’s message and intent got lost. This book was painfully repetitive throughout and was overflowing with information that wasn’t difficult to understand but was so incredibly dense and repetitive that I wasn’t able to absorb much from it (and I took almost six weeks to read this). This drastically decreased the impact that this book could have had and made me wonder if another round or three of editing would help.

The portions I found most compelling were the autobiographical bits. The author’s voice was more evident in these parts, and it finally felt more personal than spouting off quotes, philosophy, and statistics. His family history, his struggles with addiction, and his fascination with suicide from a young age were heartbreaking and insightful. Unfortunately, these sections took a backseat to the dense and repetitive philosophical discussions, quotes, and case studies.

The Goodreads blurb states that the author argues that “for the vast majority of suicides, an attempt does not just come out of the blue, nor is it merely a violent reaction to a particular crisis or failure, but is the culmination of a host of long-standing issues.” However, I felt that this was something I already knew going in and I assumed was something that most people these days were aware of. It felt like this work was lacking a compelling thesis which made the book lack direction.

I think that this book needs editing and a thorough revision before it can be an impactful or approachable read. Until then, I can’t recommend this to anyone and was disappointed with my reading experience. My thanks to NetGalley and Pantheon Publishing for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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I have a psych degree, so I was really interested in reading this book at first. However, the book just fell flat for me and left little to be desired. It was very repetitive, and jumped around a lot during the story. Obviously depression and suicide is tough to talk about, so kudos to the author for being able to open up about mental issues.

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This was heavy, but also less so because so much of it was a memoir of his life. It was Interesting, but not what I expected.

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