Riconoscimenti - Shneidman Award 2008
Lo storico incontro tra il padre
della suicidologia Edwin Shneidman, Ph.D. e Maurizio Pompili, M.D. insignito con
lo Shneidman Award 2008 dall'American Association of Suicidology con la
motivazione "outstanding early career contributions to Suicidology". Nel corso
di una lunga collaborazione, Shneidman ha invitato il Dr. Pompili a Los Angeles
per discutere il futuro della suicidologia.
Edwin S. Shneidman 1918 - 2009
Edwin S. Shneidman has died at the age of 91 on May 15, 2009 in his home in West Los Angeles. He is commonly considered the father of suicidology as he pioneered the discipline in the fifties starting from a serendipitously study of suicide notes. He was at that time, with Norman Farberow and Robert Litman, the Co-founder of the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, later on the Founder of the American Association of Suicidology and the Founder-Editor of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. He was also Professor of Thanatology Emeritus at UCLA. He coined various words of our field such as psychological autopsy, postvention and psychache to name just a few. Despite his age he never lost the spirit of a researcher and a thinker. He was always prolyphic with ideas, suggestions and in fueling the development of suicidology. He authored and edited some twenty books and his latest one (A commonsense book of death) was published just a few months ago. I spoke with him two days before his death, on his birthday, and he confessed that it was the end but actually found the words to thank me and say goodbye. Despite he was “Waiting for death” as he stated, he conserved his scientific interested in the end of life process, indefatigable exploring it. He admitted that every so often he wished to be dead but also asked me recently “Please continue phoning me, you keep me alive in this way”. He was so in love with life that it seemed that he had to convince himself that such passion must set the pace for death. He wrote in 1973 “Death while it might be explored, can never be fully charted”.
Ed. has been a friend and mentor for a number of years. Despite a big generation gap, we got acquainted and developed a mutual sincere interest. He was always kind, sweet, polite, and articulate as well as kindly severe for things that didn’t approve. His dedications to me in letters and books are really precious drops of his enormous wisdom that I will never forget. In his latest book had written on October 2008 “To Maurizio Pompili, my treasured Italian son, with my deep pride in your accomplishments and sweet gratitude for your loyalty. Con Amore, Ed”. When meeting him in Los Angeles last year I found a man packed with memories and reminiscences of any kind. He had sent me a message on the occasion of the Shneidman Award saying “I’m thrilled to pieces at your receiving the award. No one is more deserving and your being the awardee warms the cockles of my hearth in a very special way. The Shneidman Pompili connection foretold in the Suicidological Stars. With my warm embrace. Ed”. I discovered a truly beautiful human being that was grateful for what life had given to him. His house was full of recollections related to the great love for his family and for his beloved wife as well as with signs of his interest for Melville and Murray. During the conversation you could appreciate the emotions of a sensible man that gets excited by simple things. He always stressed the need to include a mentalistic approach when trying to understand suicide. It is the view of a person that never gave up the mission to ameliorate the psychological drama occurring in suicidal individuals. Suicidology has lost a charismatic figure that changed the view of suicide over the past decades. From the many messages, I got convinced that all the people involved in suicide prevention are somewhat united in paying a tribute to this man.
Maurizio Pompili, MD, PhD
Sapienza University of Rome, Italy -