Linda Gray Sexton tries multiple times to kill herself—even though as a daughter, sister, wife, and most importantly, a mother, she knows the pain her act would cause. But unlike her mother’s story, Linda’s is ultimately one of triumph. Through the help of family, therapy, and medicine, she confronts deep-seated issues and curbs the haunting cycle of suicide she once seemed destined to inherit.
Linda Gray Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1953. As the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Anne Sexton, she grew up in a home filled with books and words and an attention to language, and at an early age she, too, began to write. Afternoons were sometimes spent together with her mother, reading aloud from Anne’s favorite poems.
By the time Linda was an adolescent, she had begun to write poetry and short fiction seriously, and spent many special hours curled up on the sofa in Anne’s study, discussing her own fledgling work as well as her mother’s growing oeuvre. Gradually, Anne began to rely on her daughter’s opinions, and dubbed Linda, “my greatest critic.”
In 1982, Linda and her husband moved to New York City, where she made a very brief foray into the world of writing soap opera, though throughout she stayed devoted to her love of fiction. But her most important work was raising her two sons, who were born in 1983 and 1984.
Having tea with film director Martin Scorsese in his home and discussing his interest in her book was a high point of Linda’s career as a writer. Searching for Mercy Streetwill be reissued by Counterpoint Press in April 2011. On the West Coast, with a big enough backyard at last, Linda added three Dalmatians to her family—the type of pet she had when she was a child. She developed a passion for showing them in both the breed and obedience rings, and she bred and then whelped two litters of puppies on her own. She and her new husband are avid sailors on the San Francisco Bay and own a sloop named Mercy Street.
Sexton's most recent memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, is about her struggle with her own mental illness and the legacy of suicide left to her by her mother and her mother’s family. Through the help of family, therapy and medicine, Linda confronted deep-seated issues, outlived her mother and curbed the haunting cycle of suicide she once seemed destined to inherit.
In pre-publication praise, Erica Jong, author of "Fear of Flying" and "Seducing the Demon," says:
Linda is now at work on a third memoir, and lives in California with her husband and their Dalmatian, Breeze.
- In the United States, someone commits suicide every seventeen minutes.
- Nearly one million people worldwide take their own lives annually.
- There is twice as much suicide in America as there is homicide.
- Ninety percent of the people who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness, such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
- Mood disorders are medical conditions, just like diabetes or heart disease.
- Fourteen million Americans suffer from a major depressive disorder each year, and 730,000 of them make a suicide attempt.
- Suicide is the third-highest cause of death among teenagers, following by a small margin accidental death and homicide.
- Fifty percent of wives caring for a depressed husband will develop depression themselves.
- Adult children of depressed parents have five times the rate of cardiovascular disease.
- Among the adult children of depressed parents, the rates of anxiety disorders and depression are three times higher than those of the general population.
- The tendency to commit suicide is now considered to be partially heritable.
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