Risks on the Road & Survivor's Guilt: Background information when reading Half a Life

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Half a Life

by Darin Strauss

Half a Life by Darin Strauss
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 204 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2011, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Risks on the Road & Survivor's Guilt

Print Review

Risks on the Road
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration's (NHSTA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System, of the 34,172 fatal automobile crashes in 2008, 718, about 2%, were cyclists like Celine Zilke. A much higher number of fatalities, 4,414, were pedestrians. Trend data between 1994 and 2008 shows a slightly decreasing number of non-motorist fatalities in Celine and Darin's age range, but deaths of older non-motorists, particularly between ages 45 and 54 have significantly increased.

Though automobile accidents  in general are the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 3 and 34, the NHSTA 2009 report recorded vehicle-related fatalities at their lowest level since 1950. The number of people hurt in vehicle crashes also declined in 2009.

Survivor's Guilt
The term "survivor's guilt" has popped up frequently in the media recently in the context of the recession and numerous job losses. Management and surviving employees are encouraged to find ways to overcome guilt and to keep working productively. This new application of the phrase differs from previous usage in the context of large-scale tragedies such as the Holocaust or in surviving the death of a fellow soldier in battle. The phrase has also been used in reference to the grief and confusion experienced by survivors of events such as school shootings. Survivor's guilt can also be a factor in individual tragedies, such as a child outliving a sick sibling, or in the feelings of those who survive a fatal car crash, irrespective of whether they were the cause.

The American Psychiatric Association considers this condition as just one of the symptoms that make up Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In his book, Strauss also refers to Complicated Grief Disorder, a paralyzing form of grieving that may affect some 15% of survivors of a death.

Article by Stacey Brownlie

This article was originally published in November 2010, and has been updated for the May 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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