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Alan L. Berman, Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology, 4201 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, DC, 20008 USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: +1-202-237-2280, fax: +1-202-237-2282
This chapter presents case studies which are heuristic tools for understanding and teaching about suicide. As catalogued by Canada's Suicide Information and Education Center (SIEC), 12% of the over 1900 references appearing in the literature prior to 1970 included case illustrations. The psychological autopsy, taken alone, has been used as a teaching tool since the first of two in-depth cases was presented and discussed in the Bulletin of Suicidology, the forerunner to Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, in the fall of 1970. Case studies also have value in teaching about biological bases to suicide. The case study provides us the raw data for inductive reasoning. It humanizes our epidemiological and psychiatric statistics, statistics which too often fail us when we consider the tragedy of the suicidal adolescent. The single case study design allows us to formulate treatment dynamics and plans and explore different theory-based formulations.
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