A Comprehensive Biopsychosocial Perspective

Ronald W. Maris
Foreword by David A. Jobes

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
March 4, 2019
ISBN 9781462536986
Price: $68.00
554 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
January 2, 2019
Price: $68.00
554 Pages
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554 Pages
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Integrating research from multiple disciplines, this text provides a comprehensive perspective on suicide and examines what works in prevention and intervention. The author is a pioneering researcher and clinician who addresses the classification, prevalence, and assessment of suicide and self-destructive behaviors and explores risk factors at multiple levels, from demographic variables, personality traits, psychiatric diagnoses, and neurobiological factors to the social and cultural context. Student-friendly features include text boxes that dive deeply into specific issues, instructive figures and tables, thought-provoking clinical cases, and engaging examples from literature and popular culture. The text reviews medical and psychosocial treatment and prevention approaches, discusses ways to help those bereaved by suicide, and considers issues of professional liability.

“There are now many books and countless articles pertaining to suicide prevention. Nevertheless, there is no text quite like this one, which covers the field in all its dimensions, nuances, and complexities….The next time I teach my Seminar on Suicide course, this book will be the text around which I will organize the class, because there is no better collection of suicide prevention knowledge in the literature….A gift to the field.”

—from the Foreword by David A. Jobes, PhD, ABPP, Department of Psychology, The Catholic University of America

“A giant of suicidology, Maris offers us a uniquely thorough appraisal of one of the most complex of human tragedies. This remarkable authored volume has the special advantage of providing a harmonious synthesis of many years of research and clinical and forensic practice in suicidology at the highest professional levels. Wise and detailed examinations of famous case histories make this book a ‘must have’ for those interested in deepening their knowledge of the suicide enigma. Clinicians and students alike will treasure it.”

—Diego de Leo, PhD, MD, DSc, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Australia

“This text provides a much-needed comprehensive summary and balanced critique of the current state of the field of suicidology. Strengths include the interdisciplinary lens, engaging case examples, and attention to special topics like suicide in prisons and military settings; culture and art; religious and ethical aspects; and murder–suicide. The content is current, thought provoking, and approachable for multiple audiences, from advanced undergraduates to those who have been working in suicidology for a long time. Instructors will appreciate the text's flexibility; they can arrange the presentation of topics in a way that best fits their style and course plan. Students using the text in a course will end up knowing more about suicide and prevention than many mental health professionals currently working.”

—Jennifer J. Muehlenkamp, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

“Provides a complete overview of the range of factors—from neurobiology to culture—that 21st-century students of suicidology need to understand. Maris’s writing style differentiates the volume from edited texts; he conveys even the most technical material in an accessible manner and combines comprehensible summaries of empirical studies with wisdom derived from a lifetime of work in the field, along with interesting quotations from literature. Notable features of the volume include compelling case studies that cover the gamut of reasons why a person might commit suicide; an excellent overview for students of psychiatric medications used to treat disorders that often underlie suicide, such as depression; presentation of the most well-known theories of suicide; and an examination of commonalities across individual suicides. This volume can effectively serve as the primary textbook for an advanced undergraduate- or graduate-level course.”

—Anthony Spirito, PhD, ABPP, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Table of Contents

Foreword, David A. Jobes

I. Foundations

1. Introduction to Suicidology sample

2. The Theoretical Construction of Suicidology

II. Data, Research, Assessment

3. Grounding Suicidology in Empirical Evidence

4. Risk Factors and Risk Assessment:Measurement

III. Sociodemographic Issues

5. Age, Lifespan, and Suicidal Careers

6. Sex, Gender, and Marital Status: A Phallocentric Focus

7. Social Relations, Work, and the Economy: Social versus Individual Facts

8. International Variation, Ethnicity, and Race in Suicide

9. Who Makes Suicide Attempts, How, and What Do Suicide Notes Say about Them?

IV. Major Mental Disorders, Biology, Neurobiology

10. Mental Disorder: The Most Important Suicide Risk Factor?

11. Major Depression: Undiagnosed and Untreated

12. Bipolar Disorder: A Suicidogenic Cycle of Despair

13. Schizophrenia: Bizarre and Psychotic Suicides

14. Personality Disorders: Borderline, Antisocial, and Obsessive–Compulsive Personalities

15. Alcoholism and Other Substance Abuse:The Second Most Important Suicide Risk Factor

16. Suicidal Biogenics of the Brain: Biology, Genetics, and Neurobiology

V. Religion, Culture, History, Ethics

17. God, the Afterlife, Religion, and Culture

18. Suicide in History and Art: How Did Suicide Evolve?

19. Ethical Issues, Euthanasia, and Rational Suicide: Is Suicide Ever the Right Thing to Do?

VI. Special Topics

20. Suicide in the Military: War, Aggression, and PTSD

21. Murder–Suicide: Why Take Someone with You?

22. Jail and Prison Suicides: Confinement, Rage, and Target Reduction

VII. Treatment and Prevention

23. Treatment and Intervention I. Pharmacology: What Are We Going to Do about Suicide?

24. Treatment and Intervention II. Psychotherapy: What Are We Going to do about Suicide?

25. Prevention: Can Suicides Be Stopped or Reduced?

26. Postvention and Survivors: Death May Solve the Suicide’s Problems, but What about Those Left Behind?

27. Forensic Suicidology: A Tort Is the Oldest Antidepressant

VIII. Summary and Conclusions

28. What Have We Learned?


About the Author

Ronald W. Maris, PhD, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Family Medicine, and Sociology at the University of South Carolina (USC), where he directed the Center for the Study of Suicide for 15 years. He is a forensic suicidologist who offers investigation, consultation, and testimony on a variety of civil and criminal cases. Dr. Maris has written or edited 22 books and about 100 articles. He is past president of the American Association of Suicidology and a past editor of the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. The recipient of four teaching awards from USC, Dr. Maris was certified in forensic suicidology by the American Association of Suicidology and earned Fellow status in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He has been invited to address the U.S. Congress on veteran suicides; was a consultant on the Columbia University/Food and Drug Administration project to analyze data on the relationship of suicidality and antidepressant treatment in children and adolescents, leading to black-box warnings; and has served as consultant and reviewer for grant applications to the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Academy of Sciences.


Students and instructors in clinical and social psychology, social work, counseling, psychiatry, sociology, and public health; mental health practitioners and crisis intervention specialists.

Course Use

Serves as a text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses such as Crisis Intervention, Suicide and Self-Harm, Suicidology, and Death and Dying.