Wednesday, March 01, 2006


CLIFFS OF DESPAIR: A Journey to the Edge, by Tom Hunt. New York: Random House, 2006. 257 pages, paperback.

Beachy Head is four miles of cliffs in the United Kingdom running from Eastbourne up to Birling Gap. It is distinguished as the third most popular suicide spot in the world. [The surrounds by Mt. Fugi in Japan and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco are number one and number two respectively]. The townsfolk, even those at the bar-- the BeachyHead Pub aka the Last Stop Cafe-- are unwilling or unable to talk about the people they have met who come to Beachy Head to jump off the chalk cliffs.

The author has traveled to Beachy Head twice in order to cipher out the whys of the attraction of the cliffs to people who are suicidal. The books reflects his careful thoughts and research, interviews, and some pithy quotes by English writers.

In musing about whether or not every suicidal person is "crazy," the author says on page 116:
"There can't be only one kind of suicidal mind. Suicide is too
complex for absolutes."

Cliffs of Despair is a most excellent read about a serious subject.
Though certainly not a "pro" suicide book, Cliffs of Despair does ask some deep and thought-provoking questions of the living and illustrates consequences of suicide for those of us left behind.


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