Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review of Surviving Suicide: a mothers story

Heather Hapeta (Goodreads Author)

Pip Adam's review 
Oct 07, 2012

really liked it

Like many people, suicide has been a part of my life from an early age. I found Surviving Suicide: A Mother's Story a very helpful book. Although, thankfully, it has been almost a year since the last suicide in our family I still gained a lot of information and hope from this book.

The book begins with a detailed retelling of the author's experience of her son's suicide. Hapeta recounts this time in an intimate way, explaining exactly how she felt and what she did, in the time leading up to the suicide as she tried to help her son recover from the debilitating affects of a serious accident, when she found her son's body after his suicide and in the time following. I found this account very affecting and the detail was extremely helpful. I have found that we often talk in abstracts about suicide, with our relatives and friends, but to read a detailed account of one person's experience was very useful. I could relate to many of the experiences Hapeta recounts and I found it quite helpful to compare my own experience with hers, both the similarities and the differences. In this section Hapeta also talks about what worked and what didn't during this time in her son's life and death. I'm not sure what it would be like reading this account closer to a suicide but I found it very helpful.

The second section of the book (I am not sure the book is as clearly delineated as I am presented it as, Hapeta's voice continues into the second section which is great because its easy tone and direct language is part of what makes this book so helpful) offers some invaluable advice concerning a large range of things. This makes the book an extremely useful handbook to have in the time of a suicide. This section begins with some lists about how to deal with the time directly after the suicide and comes from both Hapeta's personal experience and her word as a grief cousellor. There is one particular list which helps friends of people surviving suicide might help them. I remember Hapeta giving me this list a long time ago after a friend died and I found it useful then and I think it is still useful now. As well as guidance on how to navigate the emotional landscape of suicide, Hapeta offers pragmatic advice about the law and the media. I think this is an extemely important part of what makes this book so successful. I remember directly after the suicide of a close friend, whose will I was the executor of, being inundated with legal requirements which I didn't understand. I'm not sure I would have been robust enough to read these sections of this book but if I had a copy I am sure someone close to me could have read these and clarified what needed to be done. This legal information deals mainly with New Zealand law, but I feel that if you are an overseas reader it would act as a checklist of things to ask legal experts about. I also found Hapeta's sections about the media very helpful. There is a lot of publicity about whether the media should report suicide and Hapeta offers really intelligent and caring recommendations about how to deal with this that again come from her unique experience as suicide survivor and professional.

This book is unique, I believe. I have never read anything quite like it. The blend of personal and professional experience is invaluable. My hope is that no one will every need a book about suicide again, but I suspect they will and if they do, I think this is a very good option.

this book is avaibake on Amazon