Cambridge, MA...Over a million people in the world commit suicide every year, and, according to the American Suicide Foundation, about five million Americans have survived the suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one. Yet we are often at a loss when trying to comfort those who are left behind after a suicide.
The new book In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide (Basic Books, September 2009 -- www.inherwake.com) offers a groundbreaking perspective on how families can navigate such a devastating loss, overcoming isolation and shame. Author Nancy Rappaport, MD, is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an attending child and adolescent psychiatrist at Cambridge Health Alliance.
In Her Wake is a riveting memoir of grief and healing. Rappaport's mother killed herself in 1963 when the author was just four years old. In the book, Rappaport shares a unique vantage point as a daughter, mother, wife, and child psychiatrist as she asks tough questions and examines an inexplicable, mysterious life. Rappaport dissects complex family dynamics and mental illness to weave a compelling narrative that draws on newspaper clippings, a novel her mother was writing at the time of her death, and interviews with family and friends. Ultimately, she comes to understand her mother by building a complex mosaic of her life. This is not only a personal journey but an exploration of Rappaport's clinical care of her patients in light of her own experiences, and the book informs us all about the treatment of mental illness as well as the prevention of suicide.
Rappaport decided to share this powerful story because of her deep conviction that all of us are loved by someone. She ultimately "wants to help suicidal patients realize that they are not expendable." With In Her Wake, Rappaport maps an inspiring course of healing that can help people discover ways to endure and thrive.
Cambridge Health Alliance is an innovative, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston's metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, the Cambridge Public Health Dept., and the Network Health plan. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. Visit us online at www.challiance.org.