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Edited by Robert A King and Alan Apter. Published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, £110.00 (paperback). ISBN 0-521-62226-3
Suicide is the third commonest cause of death in young people. Attempted suicide is one of the most frequent causes of hospital contact for young people, and is associated with considerable psychiatric morbidity and increased risk of later suicide. These important problems have been the focus of substantial research, and are well suited for this recent book in the excellent Cambridge Child and Adolescent Psychiatry series.
The book consists of 13 chapters that cover both suicide and attempted suicide, written by an international group of authors. The first seven chapters are concerned with epidemiology and aetiology. Excellent contributions in this part of the book are by Gould, Shaffer, and Greenberg on epidemiology; Kelleher and Chambers on cross-cultural variation; and Apter and Wasserman on attempted suicide. There are then two chapters on assessment, which are slightly idiosyncratic (at least from a British perspective) in view of their psychodynamic and idiographic orientations. The last four chapters concern intervention, and outcomes of attempted suicide. Chapters by Harrington on cognitive behavioural therapy after deliberate self-harm, and by Boergers and Spirito on follow-up studies, are particularly good.
Problems of the book are the inevitable duplication that may occur with multi-authored texts, and the omission of frequently used treatments such as family intervention. The title is misleading as it does not include attempted suicide. Despite these comments, this is a very useful book and would be of interest to researchers and clinicians. It will be useful for trainees and also more experienced professionals from varied backgrounds, and would make an important contribution to libraries.