Suicide is everywhere. It haunts history and current events. It haunts our own networks of friends and family. It most likely haunts your private thoughts, too. Why delay the inevitable silence, particularly when this world can be so painful? The specter of suicide looms large, but the topic is taboo because any meaningful discussion must at the very least consider that the answer to the question — “is life worth living?” — might not be an emphatic yes; it might even be a stern no.
Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School in New York City, takes on the precarious question of suicide in this darkly fascinating book. Through a sweeping historical overview of suicide, a moving literary survey of famous suicide notes, and a psychological analysis of himself, Critchley offers us an authentic portrait of what it means to possess the all too human gift and curse of being able to choose life or death.
With poignance, empathy, and scholarly thoroughness, Suicide takes us to the humming cliff of death. Here on the edge, Critchley calmly and pacifically whispers the ecstatic secret of life to us.
Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research. His books include Very Little…Almost Nothing, Infinitely Demanding, The Book of Dead Philosophers, The Faith of the Faithless, The Mattering of Matter, Documents from the Archive of the International Necronautical Society (with Tom McCarthy) and Stay, Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine (with Jamieson Webster). An experimental new work, Memory Theatre, and a book called Bowie were both published in 2014. He is the moderator of ‘The Stone’, a philosophy column in The New York Times, to which he is a frequent contributor.