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Rosenthal’s Lifesaving Book Is Relevant Nearly 35 Years Later

When the coronavirus pandemic burst on the scene in 2020, it quickly threatened public health and limited human interaction. 

Howard Rosenthal, Ed.D.Once rare, staying indoors for safety, wearing masks, physically distancing, and gathering virtually became commonplace. 

Transitioning to this new way of life at the start of the pandemic increased concerns about how to identify students considering suicide. 

Although death by the coronavirus eclipsed death by suicide in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45,979 people died by suicide in the United States. That is one death every 11 minutes. 

Fortunately, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley has a subject matter expert on the topic of suicide prevention – Howard Rosenthal, Ed.D.

Rosenthal lectured on suicide prevention in February as part of the College’s Library Speakers Series, and he also has written on the subject. 

Rosenthal answers questions about his volume, “Not With My Life I Don’t: Preventing Your Suicide and That of Others.”

Q: What assistance is available to those who are suicidal? What services have you found most beneficial? What’s needed? 

A: Since July 16, 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been available 24/7 in the U.S. A person in need can call or text 988. Spanish-speaking services, and a connection to veteran’s services, are part of the system.

Anybody having a suicidal crisis should see a licensed counselor or therapist. Make certain the practitioner sports LCSW, LPC, or Licensed Psychologist credentials. Medical issues should also be ruled out by seeing a physician or ideally a psychiatrist.

Believe it or not, St. Louis has a glut of services. There is generally no reason to go without help in this town. I would often joke with my students that “If you can walk down Forsyth in Clayton or Ballas Road near Olive Street Road and U.S. Highway 270 at noon without bumping into a therapist, I’ll give you a $5 bill.”

That said, St. Louis needs a lot more psychiatrists and it is extremely difficult to get an appointment with them. Very few physicians are choosing psychiatry as a specialty, so this is becoming a nationwide issue.

In a dire emergency, it is perfectly acceptable to drive to the nearest emergency room or call local law enforcement for assistance.

Q: Tell me what motivated the book “Not With My Life I Don’t: Preventing Your Suicide and That of Others?”

A: I had lectured to over 30,000 people on the topic of suicide prevention and people kept asking me, “What is the name of your book?” I had not written one.

I was always fascinated with books since they had a tremendous impact on my own life. One of my goals in life was to author a book myself, and well, what could be more noble than writing a book to save lives?

Q: Do you think people will hesitate to buy the book for fear of what others think? How much does it cost and where can people get a copy?

A: I think at one time people might have balked at purchasing a copy, but today you can easily purchase a copy without ever walking into a bookstore. You can buy it off Amazon, my website www.howardrosenthal.com, or have the STLCC bookstore order one for you. My publisher also has a toll-free number, 1-800-634-7064. You can purchase or rent it as an e-book. The cost is around $36 for a new copy but used copies or rental plans are available for a much lower price. 

Howard Rosenthal Forum articleQ: How did/does your book impact you, others? Why should people read the book?

A: I wanted to write a suicide prevention book that was upbeat and easy to understand. Nothing gory. The book presents a crash course in emotional lifesaving that is a reader-friendly work and can be understood by kids in the eighth grade all the way through adulthood. It’s terrific for parents, teachers, and even human services practitioners.

People need to read the book because it is practical and tells you step-by-step instructions of how to recognize suicidal behavior and then what to do.

Q: The book was published May 1, 1988. Do you think the suicide phenomenon has decreased with time? What has changed since then? Is the topic still relevant? 

A: Absolutely, the suicide rate is higher today than it was when I got into the field. After a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate tends to rise. We are seeing it now.

Q: What are things people will know after reading this book?

A: After reading my book, the reader will understand how to spot a person who may be suicidal and how to intervene. I also explore the fascinating topic of copycat suicides and grief reactions.

About Howard Rosenthal, Ed.D.

Howard Rosenthal, Ed.D., is a retired professor, lead educator of human services at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, and a David L. Underwood Memorial Lecture Award recipient. 

He is a past program director for Life Crisis Services, Inc., a United Way Agency in St. Louis County. During his time as program director, LCS was the only hotline certified by the American Association of Suicidology in the St. Louis area. Today, LCS is incorporated into Provident Behavioral Health, a premier counseling provider. 

A proud graduate of STLCC-Florissant Valley, Rosenthal has written several successful books, including: “Not With My Life I Don’t: Preventing Your Suicide and That of Others,” and “Help Yourself to Positive Mental Health” with Joseph W. Hollis.

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