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We are the only species on the face of the planet that deliberately ends its own life. More often than not, it is negative social evaluations - real or imagined - that drive us to it. But what is it about the human brain that means that we may not only entertain suicidal thoughts but, in some cases, actually act upon them? Combining cutting-edge scientific research with investigative journalism, psychologist Jesse Bering takes a long hard look at the human fascination with self-slaughter. From the sprawling woods of Aokigahara, better known as the Japanese 'suicide forest' that lies in the shadow of Mount Fuji, to a parasitology lab in New Zealand where researchers are studying how invisible organisms hijack the brains of their rodent hosts and steer them in the path of hungry cats, we go on a sobering search for the scientific bases of suicide. In dealing with a volatile subject that simultaneously attracts and repulses, This Fatal Game is guaranteed to jump-start a new conversation about a perennial problem that knows no cultural or demographic boundaries.
Jesse Bering is an award-winning science writer specializing in evolutionary psychology and human behavior. His 'Bering in Mind' column at Scientific American was named a 2010 Webby Award Honoree by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. His previous books are, The Belief Instinct whichwas included in the American Library Association's Top 25 Books of the Year.This was followed by a collection of his previously published essays, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? and Perv , a taboo-shattering work igniting discussion and fierce debates, named as a New YorkTimes Editor's Choice. A developmental psychologist by training, Bering is a renowned expert in the field ofcognitive science and religion, He began his career at the University of Arkansas, as an Assistant Professor of Psychology from 2002 to 2006. He then served as the Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at the Queen's University, Belfast until 2011. Presently, he is an Associate Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago, New Zealand.
"Jesse Bering asks the questions no one else dares, he tells truths that others shy away from, and he writes the books that I wish I had written. To me, he is everything a great scientist and communicator should be. Suicide may be an uncomfortable subject yet the escalating numbers of people who take their lives each year means we must make it's unravelling our priority. I have no doubt this book will have a profound impact on all who read it, and add considerably to our understanding of that self-willed oblivion, whether it lies palpably just beneath our own skin, or the skins of those we love. But perhaps most importantly of all it will help dispel the stigma and shame that so perniciously clings to all suicides." -- Dr Christian Jessen "A brave and important exploration of a subject we urgently need to demystify. It will change every reader for the better." -- Derren Brown "Bering's book touches upon some deep questions relevant to all of us. Indeed, it is as much about what makes us uniquely human as it is about suicide. A Very Human Ending transcends its own objectives. It is a fascinating, thoughtful, unflinching meditation on one of the most intriguing and curious aspects of the human condition." -- Dr Frank Tallis, clinical psychologist Evening Standard "I'm not surprised that a book on suicide would be very personal, but I didn't expect it to be so damn funny. It's also engaging, thoughtful, and sensitive - although Bering is certainly irreverent, there is a real appreciation of how painful and difficult this topic can be. This is a book for scholars and for a general audience, but it is also entirely suitable for people whose lives have been touched by the suicide of someone they loved." Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University and author of Against Empathy "I have yet to come away from reading [Bering's] work and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before" Forbes