A Longstanding Debate

On April 29, 1972, Dr. Jerome Motto and I presented our fourth program in Continuing Education in Health Sciences at the University of California San Francisco: “Suicide Prevention: Myth or Mandate? – A Debate.”

The debate pitted Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman’s views that one must always intervene in a suicidal crisis “on the side of life,” even if that intervention includes “temporarily suspending one’s civil rights” via involuntary hospitalization, against Dr. Thomas S. Szasz’s views that “suspending one’s civil rights is the job of totalitarian governments — not physicians and therapists.”

A recording of the entire all-day debate, including panelists Robert Litman, MD; Jerome Motto, MD; George Pickett, MD; and Michael Scrivens, Ph.D., is available below.

An AMA Audio Digest condensed version of the highlights of that debate is also available below.

Note: Although prior to the program both Ed Shneidman and Tom Szasz agreed that Jerry Motto and I could publish the debate in book form, Ed changed his mind following the program and refused final permission for the book.  Thus the recorded version is all that remains of this important debate.

The Audio Digest Debate:

The Full Debate (Little over 5 hours long):
Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3Hour 4 Hours 5 and 6