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Publisher's Summary

Worldwide, more people die by suicide than by murder, and many more are left behind to grieve. Despite distressing statistics that show suicide rates rising, the subject, long a taboo, is infrequently talked about. In this sweeping intellectual and cultural history, poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht channels her grief for two friends lost to suicide into a search for history’s most persuasive arguments against the irretrievable act, arguments she hopes to bring back into public consciousness.
From the Stoics and the Bible to Dante, Shakespeare, Wittgenstein, and such 20th-century writers as John Berryman, Hecht recasts the narrative of our “secular age” in new terms. She shows how religious prohibitions against self-killing were replaced by the Enlightenment’s insistence on the rights of the individual, even when those rights had troubling applications. This transition, she movingly argues, resulted in a profound cultural and moral loss: the loss of shared, secular, logical arguments against suicide. By examining how people in other times have found powerful reasons to stay alive when suicide seems a tempting choice, she makes a persuasive intellectual and moral case against suicide.
©2013 Jennifer Michael Hecht (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Scott on 01-07-14

Informative but oddly dispassionate

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

In the introduction to Stay, the author notes that she has lost several close friends and fellow writers to suicide. She then argues why we have an obligation to stay. Powerful stuff. What follows after though is an oddly dispassionate and encyclopedic progression through historical justifications for and mostly against suicide. Some of this is interesting from a philosophical and sociological perspective but neither is it necessarily very persuasive. What seemed lacking, given the intro and the author's firm belief that we owe it to ourselves and others to live, is that she fails to engage the reader at an emotional level by bringing in any contemporary or personal connections. Still, I would say that Stay is a worthwhile read but more for those with an interest in the evolution of western society's mores toward it than a book that will convince anyone to come down from the ledge.

What about Jennifer Michael Hecht’s performance did you like?

Well read.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 03-08-16

I return to this book again and again

Any additional comments?

Whenever I'm struggling, I come back to this book. There is always something new in it that strikes me, and gives me something to hold onto moving forward.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ranjit on 08-23-16

Excellent book, well thought out and written

Very compelling and thoughtful book. Wide sources and well constructed. Recommended for any lovers of philosophy or the human condition ! Loved it.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Amy on 07-14-17

Interesting but not compelling

Fantastic narration by the author.

I was expecting the book to be solely an argument against suicide. However, the focus is more about the history of philosophers' arguments against suicide (which seems obvious now, looking at the. subtitle of the book). It's fine if that's what you're looking for, but I found that the book focused a little too much on the history without bringing these arguments together in a satisfactorily coherent and compelling way. I also couldn't figure out why the book was structured in the way it was - initially the chapters were in chronological order of the history of philosophy in suicide, but this changed later on.

In order to be most effective, I think the book would need to be more concise and place more emphasis on modern research on suicide contagion. This was the most compelling point for me, but received surprisingly little focus compared to the writings of ancient philosophers.

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