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Charles I. Brooks and Michael A. Church

In the book Subtle Suicide, we develop the unique theme that subtle suicide is usually misdiagnosed as an addiction or as anxiety, depression, bipolar, or borderline disorder. The fact is, these conditions are often symptoms of subtle suicide, not the core problem, and treatments targeted at such symptoms are likely to fail. Family, friends, and professionals must realize this very important distinction, or they may be lulled into believing that the subtle suicide sufferer simply needs to stop drinking, gambling, or take medicine for a bipolar or social anxiety condition.

We develop and describe a formal clinical concept of subtle suicide based on thousands of hours of psychotherapy with psychiatric clients, and include many case studies to illustrate the various forms the problem can take. The distinguishing feature of the subtle suicide victim is ambivalence about life. In various ways sufferers say, “I could care less if I live or die.� We include material on specific strategies for family and friends to help the subtle suicide victim. These strategies include how to respond to the sufferer’s comments, and ways to avoid being pulled into an emotional whirlpool by the sufferer. For college/graduate students and professionals, we challenge numerous trends in contemporary mental health theory and practice, including: (a) Overemphasizing overt suicide rather than subtle suicide dynamics; (b) Focusing on common diagnostic labels/disorders such as bipolar, major depression, and addictions that are often symptoms of subtle suicide and hide deeper underlying problems.

Michael A. Church, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology, King’s College

Michael A. Church, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychology at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University at Fullerton, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Miami. He has taught at King’s College since 1976, and has been a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice since 1980. He performs psychological testing and group therapy at First Hospital Wyoming Valley, Kingston, PA. He is a member of the Council of National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. He is co-author of How Psychology Applies to Everyday Life (Greenwood Publishing).


Charles I. Brooks, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Psychology, King’s College

Charles I. Brooks, Ph.D. recently retired from King’s College where he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology, King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University, his master’s in psychology from Wake Forest University, and his doctorate in experimental psychology from Syracuse University. He taught at King’s College from September 1975 to August 2011. He was designated a Distinguished Service Professor in 1993, and chosen Outstanding Faculty Member in 1982, 1999, and 2007. In addition to his books with Michael Church, he has authored numerous scholarly journal publications in psychology.