Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 December 2009
The dearth of biological studies of child and adolescent suicide necessitates that this chapter reviews the general situation, pointing out those areas that have the most relevance to adolescent suicidal behavior. The emphasis of this review also reflects the author's view that suicidal behavior in the young is strongly related to aggression and impulsivity (Oquendo and Mann, 2000; van Praag, 2000).
Serotonin and suicide
Psychopathology and suicide
One of the main obstacles to reducing the suicide rate in adolescents is a relative inability to identify youth who are at risk of suicide attempts and completions. A related problem is our lack of understanding of the mechanisms that predispose adolescents to suicidal behavior. One consistent theme in the literature, however, is that suicide and suicidal behavior are linked to a wide variety of psychiatric disorders, including affective illness, substance abuse, conduct disorder, and schizophrenia (Brent et al., 1993). Over 90% of adolescent and adult suicide victims appear to have at least one major psychiatric disorder (Brent, 1989). However, since the majority of patients with psychiatric disorders do not commit or attempt suicide, it appears that a psychiatric disorder may be a necessary, but not a sufficient, risk factor for suicide. Therefore, one of the most pressing clinical research areas in the field of adolescent suicidality is to identify those factors, other than psychiatric disorder, that predispose to suicide.