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How Not to Kill Yourself

Portrait of a Suicidal Mind

Clancy Martin

The last time Clancy Martin tried to kill himself was in his basement with a dog leash. He didn’t write a note.

How Not to Kill Yourself is an affirmation of life by someone who has tried to end it multiple times. It’s about standing in your bathroom every morning, gearing yourself up to die. It’s about choosing to go on living anyway.

In an unflinching account of his darkest moments, Clancy Martin makes the case against suicide, drawing on the work of philosophers from Seneca to Jean Améry. Through critical inquiry and practical steps, we might yet answer our existential despair more freely – and with a little more creativity.

  • Publication date: May 11, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861540488
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: May 11, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780861540631
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 368


'How Not to Kill Yourself is a remarkable book – self-flaying in its honesty, harrowing in its dark narrative turns, clear in its philosophising, and ultimately consoling in its message of hope. Treating sometimes dangerous material with care, Clancy Martin's book is illuminating, riveting, and – for those of us who are suffering, or know people who are – potentially life-savingly helpful.'

Scott Stossel

'The most honest, complicit, searing, and discomfiting book I’ve ever read about suicide (and I’ve read quite a few—out of purely scholarly interest, of course). All great narratives pose a battle between the force of life and the force of death; How Not To Kill Yourself does this as brilliantly and powerfully as any book I have encountered in quite some time. Thrilling and useful.'

David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead

'In this unusually brave book, Clancy Martin dissects the anatomy of his own suicide attempts and, deploying other people’s stories and a wide range of literary sources, gives voice to the large questions that suicide raises: why some people want to live and others do not; why some fluctuate between the poles; why he is grateful to have survived his attempts but still hears the siren call of self-annihilation.  He writes confidently, philosophically, dramatically, and with great clarity about a life that has been both wondrous and agonising.'

Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

'Suicide is impossibly difficult to understand but Clancy Martin gives first-person insight into why some choose to kill themselves; importantly, he also gives witness to the kind of hard work it takes for a suicidal person to opt for life.'

Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind and Fires in the Dark

'Clancy Martin reminds us that the most existential questions around suicide—what drives a person to want to die and what has kept them alive—are not answered by the act itself but by people like him, who have long suffered and are authentically seeking what it means to go on living. He fearlessly and relentlessly asks these questions of himself and is thankfully here today to offer his many valuable lessons, both for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and those who work to help them.'

Dr. John S. Draper, Former Project Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network

'Clancy Martin has written an extraordinary, thoughtful book that combines his heartbreaking experience with clear-eyed suggestions. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. Required—and, yes, somehow optimistic reading--for anyone interested in this enormous mental health problem.'

D. T. Max, author of Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: The Life of David Foster Wallace

‘Bleak, funny, unforgiving… It’s written extremely finely, with wit and enviable self-control. A genuinely fresh, disconcerting voice.’

Zadie Smith on How to Sell

‘Dirty, greatly original, and very hard to stop reading.’

Jonathan Franzen on How to Sell

'A disturbing and transfixing dissection of suicide and its circumstances.'

Kirkus Reviews

Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin’s work has appeared in The New YorkerThe AtlanticHarper’sEsquireLapham’s QuarterlyThe Paris Review and many other prominent publications. His books include the critically acclaimed How to Sell and Love and Lies

Author page

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