Suicide Treatment and Prevention: Learning from Sylvia Plath
with Phoebe Cirio, MSW, LCSW
Join us Thursday, August 25 from 7-9 p.m.
$80 / 2.0 Credit Hours / Intermediate Course / Available in-Person at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute and Virtual Via Zoom
Sylvia Plath, the renowned poet and novelist, died by suicide in 1963 at the age of 30. It was a truly tragic loss of a brilliant woman. Fortunately, Plath’s letters, her extant journals, & a splendid new biography by Heather Clark, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath which was published in 2020, are now available. Plath was intermittently suicidal from late adolescence through her final, successful suicide, & Clark, in her 900-page tome, carefully illuminates Plath’s struggles with her life, development, and suicidal ideation. In this course, which will satisfy the 2-hour requirement for a suicide prevention course for Missouri Social Workers, we will explore Plath’s suicidality through excerpts from the biography, her poetry, her autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, her letters, & her journals. We will look in particular at Plath’s letters written to her psychiatrist. Additionally, we will look at some psychoanalytic papers written about Plath. It is my intent not to look at Plath as a victim, rather as someone deeply engaged in trying to make sense of her life and experience, but with a tragic outcome. We will use this as a means of thinking about preventing other suicides.
- Students will be able to describe signs of suicidal risk.
- Students will be able to identify several specific indicators of suicidal intent.
- Students will be able to assess and describe factors that could interfere with the development of acute suicidality.
- Students will be able to identify and discuss interventions to prevent a successful suicide.
Hawton, K, Hill, N.T., et. al. (2020) Clustering of suicides in children and adolescents. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Vol 4 (1) pp 58-67. Price, James H, Khubchandani, J. (2021) Firearm Suicides in the Elderly: A Narrative Review and Call for Action. Journal of Community Health, 46: 1050-1058. Mokkenstorm, Jan K, Kerkhof, J.F.M. et al. (2017) Is It Rational to Pursue Zero Suicides Among Patients in Health Care? Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 48: 745-754 https://doi.org/10.1111/sltb.12396