Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 December 2009
Suicide and suicide attempts among adolescents are growing at an alarming rate (Diekstra and Garnefski, 1995). Suicide in adolescents, as it is in adults, is an escape from intolerable mental pain, hopelessness, and meaninglessness of their lives into an illusion of peacefulness (Baumeister, 1990; Orbach, 1988; Range, 1992; Shneidman, 1985, 1996). Adolescence, with the dramatic, transitional changes it brings, is the time in life when self-destruction erupts for the first time as an epidemic. This fact can be attributed to the many risks that accompany this transition. Many risk factors for suicide have been identified in adolescents: past suicide attempts, depression, feelings of hopelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual abuse, mental disorders, isolation, suicide in the family or by a friend, accumulation of negative life events, problems with anger control, low self-esteem, school failure, homosexuality, identity problems, family problems, learning difficulties, difficulties in problem solving, and others (Maris, 1991; Orbach, 1997). The eruption of the suicide epidemic at adolescence is of great concern and has led the efforts to initiate programs for prevention for the young. This chapter presents major approaches, principles, and techniques of suicide prevention programs prevalent in schools and prevention centers. Before the presentation of these, however, we need to gain some understanding into the experiences of the suicidal person as well as into some aspects of the adolescents' inner world. I will focus on these mostly from a psychodynamic perspective.