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We need to talk about suicide, local author and professor says

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Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
The World Health Organization lists stigma and taboo as one of the main obstacles in the way of lowering suicide rates worldwide.

Clancy Martin’s new book “How Not to Kill Yourself” takes a bold and unflinching look at what he calls the suicidal mind. Combining aspects of memoir and social inquiry, the book underscores one big idea: We need to be talking about suicide.

Need help? Know someone who does? Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. And yet, it’s not talked about very much; at least, not openly.

Clancy Martin, a philosophy professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and author of the soon-to-be published book “How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of a Suicidal Mind,” said that needs to change.

“The most important thing we can do is talk about suicide,” Martin said on Up To Date Monday. “Talking with another human being about suicide is the only known guaranteed medicine for suicidal thinking, and anyone can do it.”

Martin knows how difficult it can be to talk about suicide. He’s attempted suicide 10 times in his life, and many times, he kept these attempts a secret from his wife and coworkers.

“There’s this idea that a person has one face in public and a different face in private,” he said. “It's more that this internal struggle is part of who you are, and so you can naturally be a kind of happy and cheerful person and yet, at the same time, also have this very deep belief structure that you would be better off dead.”

Because of the stigma surrounding suicide, Martin said people are usually shocked when a person takes, or attempts to take, their own life, when in reality, that person has likely been thinking about suicide for years.

“You need to think about someone's suicide attempt in a different way,” he said. “They've probably been fighting this battle for a long, long time.”

  • Clancy Martin, author and professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri, Kansas City

Event details: "How Not to Kill Yourself" by Clancy Martin in Conversation with Angela Elam, 6 p.m., Thursday, March 23 at Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri 64112

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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