Alcohol and suicidal behavior in adolescents

L. Sher, D. Sperling, G. Zalsman, G. Vardi, J. Merrick

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)333-339
    Number of pages7
    JournalMinerva Pediatrica
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1 Aug 2006


    • Adolescence
    • Alcohol
    • Suicidal behavior
    • Suicide

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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