How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Pantheon Books
Publish Date
6.38 X 9.37 X 1.81 inches | 1.58 pounds

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About the Author

CLANCY MARTIN is the acclaimed author of the novel How to Sell (FSG) as well as numerous books on philosophy, and has translated works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and other philosophers. A Guggenheim Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York, The Atlantic, Harper's, Esquire, The New Republic, Lapham's Quarterly, The Believer, and The Paris Review. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and Ashoka University in New Delhi. He is the survivor of more than ten suicide attempts and a recovering alcoholic.



One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year
One of Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"I can see [this book] becoming a rock for people who've been troubled by suicidal ideation, or have someone in their lives who is, and want to understand the mentality, which can seem utterly mystifying to the unafflicted. Swirling with anguish and argument, tempered by practicality, it airs an often taboo topic with the authority of someone writing what he knows -- all too gruesomely well."
--The New York Times

"Feels vitally important because it goes deeply into a conversation about mental health so few of us ever have."
--Vulture, "8 Great Audiobooks to Listen to This Month"

"A book called How Not to Kill Yourself is not only tough to read on the subway in hardcover, it also seems, at first blush, possibly dangerous for a depressed or suicidal person to read. But even as Martin spares no detail about his depressive episodes or suicide attempts, the book lives up to its ambitious title. Inherent to the hopeful message is Martin's overarching philosophy that we as a society must eliminate the idea that suicidal or depressive or addictive people are bad or sinful, an idea that's baked so deeply into our culture we may not even realize it's there."
--Emily Gould, Vulture/New York Magazine

"It had me rapt. It seems rare to see an unambiguously life-affirming book from someone who's been to such dark places."
--Tao Lin, author of Leave Society

"Written with surprising tenderness and humor, this memoir-cum-critical-inquiry is a perspective-shifting study."
--The Millions

"A critical memoir diving headfirst into our darkest and most taboo desire."
--Lit Hub

"Clancy Martin has written an extraordinary, thoughtful book that combines his heartbreaking experience with clear-eyed suggestions. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. Required--and, yes, somehow optimistic reading--for anyone interested in this enormous mental health problem."
-- D.T. Max, author of Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: The Life of David Foster Wallace

"A remarkable book--self-flaying in its honesty, harrowing in its dark narrative turns, clear in its philosophizing, and ultimately consoling in its message of hope. Treating sometimes dangerous material with care, How Not to Kill Yourself is illuminating, riveting, and--for those of us who are suffering, or know people who are--potentially life-savingly helpful."
--Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety

"In this unusually brave book, Clancy Martin dissects the anatomy of his own suicide attempts and, deploying other people's stories and a wide range of literary sources, gives voice to the large questions that suicide raises: why some people want to live and others do not; why some fluctuate between the poles; why he is grateful to have survived his attempts but still hears the siren call of self-annihilation. He writes confidently, philosophically, dramatically, and with great clarity about a life that has been both wondrous and agonizing."
--Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

"Suicide is impossibly difficult to understand but Clancy Martin gives first-person insight into why some choose to kill themselves; importantly, he also gives witness to the kind of hard work it takes for a suicidal person to opt for life."
--Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Fires in the Dark

"The most honest, complicit, searing, and discomfiting book I've ever read about suicide (and I've read quite a few--out of purely scholarly interest, of course). All great narratives pose a battle between the force of life and the force of death; How Not To Kill Yourself does this as brilliantly and powerfully as any book I have encountered in quite some time. Thrilling and useful."
--David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead

"How Not to Kill Yourself
is devastating and encyclopedic. Martin offers his own story, full of dangerous challenges and surprising lessons, and gives the reader many ways to think about suicide--the problem in literature, the problem in history, the problem in daily life."
--Donald Antrim, author of One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival

"Clancy Martin reminds us that the most existential questions around suicide--what drives a person to want to die and what has kept them alive--are not answered by the act itself but by people like him, who have long suffered and are authentically seeking what it means to go on living. He fearlessly and relentlessly asks these questions of himself and is thankfully here today to offer his many valuable lessons, both for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and those who work to help them."
--Dr. John S. Draper, Former Project Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network

"The book is both helpful and harrowing, asking readers to do what Martin says, not what he has done."
--Publishers Weekly, "Clancy Martin Explains 'How Not to Kill Yourself'"

"Transfixing. . . This provocative dive into a difficult subject shouldn't be missed."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Disquieting, deeply felt, eye-opening, and revelatory."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review