Review: Unraveling My Father’s Suicide

Unraveling My Father's Suicide

Unraveling My Father’s Suicide is Catholic revert and blogger Kathleen Laplante’s memoir exploring the impact that her father’s suicide has had on her family. Roger Laplante died on Kathleen’s 21st birthday, the same age his father was when he too died in “suspicious circumstances”. Kathleen’s cousin Mark also died by his own hand a few years later, as did her cousin’s daughter Ruth.

The memoir details Kathleen’s family life, her struggle with depression, and her Catholic faith. It was and continues to be a difficult journey.

Of particular interest are the unique struggles of families who have lived through suicides and the heavy toll it takes. The damage includes the loss of the person, but also leaves a lasting and malignant scar on the survivors. There is no getting over it, just living day by day and working to save future generations.

You will find this book to be a window into one family’s story. The book will be of particular interest to those who have suffered this in their own family or who are close with others who have.

People often think of family legacy in terms of material goods passed from one generation to another. Money in the bank, a life insurance payout, grandma’s old clock, and the antique piano come to mind. Legacy, however, refers to intangibles as well: a grandmother’s legacy of love and respect, a legacy at a university, and a legacy of pain from the Great Depression. I never considered something as horrific as suicide to be a legacy, but the concept emerged more clearly during my research for this book.

I found its oppressive force contaminating past and current generations of my family tree, and I became suspicious that it was a factor in the unfolding of our genealogy. By no means is suicide a desirable family legacy, but it is a real one. In a relatively brief thirty-year time span in my family, there were two suicides, one nonfatal suicide attempt, and four ongoing battles against its mental and physical torment.

The book is available in inexpensive paperback and e-book formats. It is 151 pages long, divided into the following chapters:

  1. Into the Abyss
  2. After the Funeral
  3. Return to the Mausoleum
  4. The Holy Catholic Bible
  5. The Family Legacy
  6. My Unrelenting Ideation
  7. My Birthday
  8. The Quest for Treatment
  9. Further Investigation
  10. Memorials
  11. Intimacy
  12. Turning Fifty
  13. Silver Linings

Additionally, there is a preface, introduction, epilogue, photographs, appendices, notes, resources, acknowledgments and information about the author. After each chapter is a “Memorable Minutiae” with the author’s brief recollections of an event in her life.

This is an interesting, though not an entertaining book! However, if you or someone close to you has suffered with suicide and its lasting impact, this book will offer insights that may help on that journey.

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Comments

  1. Dear George,

    Thank you so much for taking all the time it takes to obtain a new book, read the book, especially when it presents disturbing material, and then prepare an in-depth review like yours. I hope many people are educated and helped to better deal with the epidemic of suicide throughout our country. This additional information from a press release may be of further assistance:

    “Kathleen’s revelation about depression, alcoholism, bipolar, and suicide in the family tree, brings attention to the need for more effective mental health treatment and suicide prevention in our country. This is backed up with the statistic reported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): Every 12.8 seconds, someone in the United States dies by suicide. And that means someone is left to make sense of a suicide every second after that. These jarring statistics are unsettling.

    Any time someone takes their own life, many people around them are deeply affected. Known as suicide survivors (people left behind after someone commits suicide), these family members and friends struggle in the aftermath. Kathleen’s book provides unique insight into these struggles.

    Unraveling My Father’s Suicide is relevant to most everyone, including older teenagers and young adults.”

    In Christ,
    Kathleen +

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