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MINERVA PEDIATRICA

A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


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Minerva Pediatrica 2006 August;58(4):333-9

language: English

Alcohol and suicidal behavior in adolescente

Sher L. 1, Sperling D. 1, Zalsman G. 1,2,3, Vardi G. 4, Merrick J. 4,5,6,7

1 Division of Neuroscience Department of Psychiatry Columbia University, NY, USA
2 Geha Psychiatric Hospital, Petah Tiqva, Israel
3 Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
4 Zusman Child Development Center Division of Pediatrics Soroka University Medical Center Faculty of Health Sciences Ben Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva, Israel
5 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD, USA
6 Center for Disability and Human Development Faculty of Health Sciences Ben Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva, Israel
7 Office of the Medical Director Division for Mental Retardation Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel


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This review describes epidemiology, pathophysiology, risk factors, treatment and prevention of suicidal behavior in adolescents. As one of the leading causes of death of young adults, adolescent suicide has become a public health problem and an increase in the adolescent suicide rate has been observed over the past several decades. One important risk factor thought to contribute to the recent rise in suicidal behavior among young adults is increasing alcohol abuse among adolescents. The link between alcohol and suicide in adolescents is complicated and multiple risk factors are important in explaining and understanding suicidal behavior among adolescents. Comorbid psychopathology, which is common among adolescent alcohol abusers, substantially increases the risk for suicide behavior. Availability of alcohol and guns at home may also contribute to suicide risk in adolescents. Studies of stress hormones, brain neurotransmitters, hereditary factors, behavioral measures and gender differences shed light in understanding this complex phenomenon. Ideally, treatment of adolescents who receive a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder and co-occurring suicidality should follow an integrated protocol that addresses both conditions. Future studies of psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of suicidality in adolescents with alcohol and/or substance abuse are merited.

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