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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2007 Jan-Mar;19(1):53-9.

Preventing suicide in adolescents with alcohol use disorders.

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Department of Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032, USA.


Adolescent suicide is an escalating crisis that needs to be addressed by clinicians and researchers. Alcohol use has consistently been implicated in adolescent suicide and it is generally assumed that alcohol use leads to an increased risk in suicidality, suicide attempts and completed suicides. It can lead to adolescent suicidality through alcohol myopia, disinhibition, and impaired judgment. Multiple genetically related intermediate phenotypes might contribute to the risk of alcohol misuse and suicidal behavior in adolescents. Genetic variations that enhance the risk for mood and anxiety symptoms or susceptibility to stress might increase risk through different mechanisms. Comorbid disorders such as depression are frequently exhibited in adolescents who misuse alcohol, therefore any adolescent who appears to be at risk for alcoholism or depression should always be screened for all other psychiatric disorders and for suicidality; some signs suicidal adolescents may exhibit include withdrawal, personality change, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. While assessment is important, prevention is crucial in any attempt to decrease the incidence of adolescent suicide. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established a set of seven guidelines that can be implemented from kindergarten through high school in order to establish alcohol prevention efforts in schools. Through beginning prevention efforts at a young age, it is hopeful that both alcohol misuse and adolescent suicide can be reduced.

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