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Posted October 27, 2003 

The Power to Prevent Suicide:
A Guide for Teens Helping Teens
By Richard E. Nelson, Ph.D., and Judith Galas
Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., Minneapolis, MN:1994

Reviewed by Loi Eberle, M.A.

This short, readable book is written by Richard Nelson, Ph.D., the Director of Student Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Kansas, with freelance writer, Judith Galas. Nelson observes that the statistics on suicide are overwhelming, summarized in the statement: “every four years someone in your school will commit suicide.” He also states that most people share their suicidal thoughts with friends. The rest of the book deals with the question, “What would you do if a friend confided to you that he or she was going to commit suicide?” Before answering that question, the authors present some basic information about human behavior, to help “you to understand why someone you know might choose suicide.” Nelson feels this provides the groundwork for understanding why “a concerned and caring friend can play a significant role in reversing someone’s suicidal thoughts and stopping his or her suicidal plans.”

This leading cause of death among teenagers they feel rarely happens without some warning and is preventable. They assure the reader that “talking about suicide won’t give teenagers ideas” and in fact, allowing suicidal thoughts to be out in the open makes them less likely to become suicidal behaviors. They also site research stating “out of every ten teens who attempt or complete a suicide, seven have told someone, in some way, about their plans.” He outlines the warning signs of suicide, and who is at risk. The second part of the book deals with how to be a suicide preventer, how to take care of ones’ self in what can be a stressful situation and what resources are available for help. This seems like an essential guild book both for adolescents and those who work with them.

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