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Submitted Literature

Suicide Junkie

By S. Westwood

Review

In his memoir, Suicide Junkie, Stephen Westwood searches for the roots of his addiction to suicide and self-harm.  In this, he charts various preoccupations and losses, not least contact with family and friends: ‘My life is a mess of people coming and going’.  The book presents highly personal, diary-style accounts of his journey and nostalgia features prominently throughout.  As the author contends, ‘Things look better in a mask of nostalgia.’  In fact, this wistfulness for film, music and other cultural productions and icons appears to be a coping strategy.  Nostalgia offers a simulacrum or fragile and deceptive substitute for connection with the world.  Moving through the labyrinth of Westwood’s complex, gothic identity, the reader is often brought to the ‘suicide zone’ and afforded an insight into the experience of self-harming and how services respond to this.  It also tells of the hidden dynamic of suicide, the invisibility of intent: ‘Suicide is always dancing behind my eyes yet no one sees it.’  With the very high suicide rate among Goths and those with Body Dysmorphic Syndrome, this book offers practitioners an intimate perspective on staying alive – a means of seeing how metaphors of darkness cohere in the lives of isolated and emotionally challenged individuals and how at least one individual writes himself out of the ultimate decision.

Key Themes:

  • Suicidality

Reference: S., Westwood. 2007. Suicide Junkie. Chipmunkapublishing, 2007

Reviewer

Professor Paul Crawford
Date Review Submitted: Sunday 3rd May 2009