Precursors to Suicide in Life and Works of Sylvia Plath and Sarah Kane Essay

Precursors to Suicide in Life and Works of Sylvia Plath and Sarah Kane Essay

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Precursors to Suicide in Life and Works of Sylvia Plath and Sarah Kane

Introduction
We are going to describe factors associated with the suicidal process in lives of Sarah Kane and Sylvia Plath as reflected in the late works of these two female authors who committed suicide when they were 27 and 30 years old. Antoon Leenaars and Susanne Wenckstern (1998) have written: ?Suicide notes are probably the ultrapersonal documents. They are the unsolicited productions of the suicidal person, usually written minutes before the suicidal death.? Literary works of suicidal authors written in the time before their death can be read as such suicide notes.
It is possible that the suicidal process set off before Sarah Kane started to write her best play and before Sylvia Plath wrote the best poems of her life. They might have been either created in an attempt to set the suicidal process back (Viewegh, 1996) or as a pure manifestation of this suicidal process which might have brought about sudden burst of strong internal creative powers. In both cases we might take these works as suicide notes and poetic accounts on a dramatic search for the meaning of life and existence.
Nevertheless no suicide note is able to give a complete account of the suicidal mind. Such a note must be put in the context of the individual life as Shneidman said (1980) and in the context of broad theoretical formulations about suicide and personality functioning in general as stated by Leenaars (1988) if one wants to understand the motives lying behind.
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Risk Factors for Suicide
Very concise description of risk factors for suicide has been offered by Leenaars (1988) and is based on studies of 10 theories of suicide. There are 5 subcategories included under the intr...


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Leenaars, A. A. & Wenckstern, S. (1998). Sylvia Plath: A protocol analysis of her last poems. Death Studies, October 1, 1998, Vol. 22, Issue 7, ISSN: 0748-1187. Retrieved May 6, 2005 from Academic Search Premier Database.
Plath, A. & Plath, S. (Eds.) (1975). Letters Home. London: Faber and Faber.
Shneidman, E. S. (1980). Voices of death. New York: Harper & Row.
Shneidman, E. S. (1982). The suicidal logic of Cesare Pavese. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10, 547-563.
Stirman, S. W. & Pennebaker, J. W. (2001): Word Use in the Poetry of Suicidal and Nonsuicidal Poets. Psychosomatic Medicine. 63, p. 517-522 � 2001 American Psychosomatic Society, Retrieved December 20, 2004 from http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/63/4/517
Viewegh, J. (1996). Sebevra?da a literatura (Suicide and literature). Brno: Nakladatelstv� Tom�?e Jane?ka
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