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Book says Jackie mulled suicide

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Jacqueline Kennedy contemplated suicide months after her husband's assassination but feared that God might separate her from Jack Kennedy in the afterlife if she did so, an upcoming book by Newsday reporter Thomas Maier reveals.

In "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings — A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family" to be published by Basic Books on Oct. 7, Maier recounts the recollections of Richard McSorley, a Jesuit theology teacher at Georgetown University and trusted Kennedy family adviser. Maier was the first to interview McSorley about his relationship with Jacqueline. The priest also allowed him access to his private papers.

McSorley, who died last October, gave Jackie tennis lessons, which were thinly disguised counseling sessions, during the spring of 1964. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963.

As they lobbed balls over the net, Jackie also divulged that she didn't want to marry again, that she was extremely lonely and that she felt too despondent to continue to be a good mother to her children, John Jr. and Caroline. She blamed herself for problems in their marriage, reports Maier, whose family saga has been praised in Publishers Weekly as "masterful."

Jackie made her first admission about suicidal thoughts in April 1964, during the second tennis session, and brought up the subject again in May, as what would have been Jack's 47th birthday approached, Maier writes. In May, Maier reports, she suggested to McSorley that her death might lead others to end their own troubled lives, adding that she was glad Marilyn Monroe had been able to escape her misery through suicide.

McSorley, according to Maier's book, advised Jackie not to take her own life but said it was all right to pray to die, when she asked him to pray for her death. The tennis lessons were arranged by Robert Kennedy, Jackie's brother-in-law, and took place in his back yard.

In July, Jackie Kennedy left Washington for New York. In letters, she thanked McSorley and said she was following his advice, to keep busy and move on.