"Patrick would teach me something I never thought possible. He would teach me there was something worse than death. It was the fear of not dying. It was called depression."
-Marie Lisette Rimer,
Back From Suicide
Patrick Wood was a valedictorian, an AP Scholar, and a National Merit Scholarship winner with perfect SAT scores. He graduated with honors from Stanford University and was a top programming intern for Siemens. He was popular in Berlin’s gay scene when rejection from a boyfriend plunged him into despair. He left his job without notice and wandered the streets of Berlin in a daze. He told his mother suicide would be easy. She had no idea he meant it. Six weeks later, he plugged every opening in a small room in his Berlin apartment and lit three pans of charcoal. A lifetime of success disappeared when Patrick was twenty-three years old.
Back From Suicide is a memoir of the least likely person to kill himself. It is a decade-long search for answers that explores depression and the difficulty of coming out. Patrick’s mother, Lisette Rimer, turns tragedy into understanding how suicide could be easy, how brilliance could turn into ashes. She traces Patrick’s journey through the misery of depression and the deception of permanent relief. She learns what she should have done, what she should have said, what parents need to know, and, in spite of mistakes, how she emerged Back From Suicide.
Praise for Back From Suicide
“Back From Suicide is a must-read for everyone, at this moment of our sad history, when teenage suicide is on the rise. I did not put it down, except to eat and sleep. It is a tour de force—pitch perfect (Wagnerian though it often is). It is a mother’s journey to trace the arc, the soul, and the burn-out of this shooting star. Rimer has brought his greatness to life, over and over again. She is a sleuth, a truth teller, and a superb writer. Patrick shines on, even in the depths of his family’s and his mother’s grief.”
-Nancy Cobb, In Lieu of Flowers: A Conversation for the Living
“Back from Suicide is stunning. It’s about love, which drives a mother’s quest to understand the roots of her brilliant son’s suicide. I have savored it, struggled with it, and felt it roll around in my mind. Lisette Rimer’s seamless prose is a tribute to her son’s life and an insightful examination of how little one may know those we hold closest and the despair of depression. I am in awe of what she has undertaken and accomplished.”
-Nancy Pritchard Weiss, columnist, The Villager newspapers, Co-Poet Laureate, Pomfret, CT.
“This book chronicles a mother’s poignant search for answers after her high-achieving multi-talented 23-year old son commits suicide far from home. The quest reveals guilt, anger, pain and bewilderment but also provides useful information about the evolution of treatment for depression and prevention of suicide.”
-Steve Kotchko, retired journalist
“By its embodiment of unflinchingly meticulous self-examination, Back From Suicide articulates the extraordinarily courageous and penetrating journey of a parent whose child takes his own life. Expressed in uncomplicated and genuine, candid writing, the book's unique accomplishment is its easily understandable, detailed immersion of the reader in emotion, disbelief, and confusion. Repeated attempts to grasp ways to fathom the profoundly misunderstood disease that is mental depression offer a deeply thorough path towards awareness, knowledge, recognition, and acceptance.”
-Ann Warde, composer, US-UK Fulbright Scholar
“Back From Suicide is heart-rending and saddening, but it is at the same time a reflective celebration of Patrick. It is precise, real, succinct and thereby all the more expressive–a work of insight and clarity, compassion that does not err on the side of over expression.”
-Karen Kramer, Ph.D., Director, Stanford Program in Berlin, Academia. Exzellenz hat ihren Preis
“How does one pay tribute to a brilliant life that ends far too soon? This gripping book sets out to do just that and, as well, catalog the protracted, difficult attempt at peacemaking that follows the loss of a child to suicide.”
-Brad Davis, Short List of Wonders, Sunken Garden Poetry winner