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      Adolescent Suicide as a Failure of Acute Stress-Response Systems

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      Annual Review of Clinical Psychology

      Annual Reviews

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          Abstract

          Suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide for adolescents. Despite decades of research on correlates and risk factors for adolescent suicide, we know little about why suicidal ideation and behavior frequently emerge in adolescence and how to predict, and ultimately prevent, suicidal behavior among youths. In this review, we first discuss knowledge regarding correlates, risk factors, and theories of suicide. We then review why adolescence is a period of unique vulnerability, given changing biology and social network reorganization. Next, we present a conceptual model through which to interpret emerging findings in adolescent suicide research. We suggest that a promising area for future research is to examine adolescent suicide as a failure of biological responses to acute stress in the proximal moments of a suicidal crisis. After reviewing initial evidence for this conceptualization, we review future directions for studies on adolescent suicide.

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          Most cited references 114

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          Suicide and suicidal behavior.

          Suicidal behavior is a leading cause of injury and death worldwide. Information about the epidemiology of such behavior is important for policy-making and prevention. The authors reviewed government data on suicide and suicidal behavior and conducted a systematic review of studies on the epidemiology of suicide published from 1997 to 2007. The authors' aims were to examine the prevalence of, trends in, and risk and protective factors for suicidal behavior in the United States and cross-nationally. The data revealed significant cross-national variability in the prevalence of suicidal behavior but consistency in age of onset, transition probabilities, and key risk factors. Suicide is more prevalent among men, whereas nonfatal suicidal behaviors are more prevalent among women and persons who are young, are unmarried, or have a psychiatric disorder. Despite an increase in the treatment of suicidal persons over the past decade, incidence rates of suicidal behavior have remained largely unchanged. Most epidemiologic research on suicidal behavior has focused on patterns and correlates of prevalence. The next generation of studies must examine synergistic effects among modifiable risk and protective factors. New studies must incorporate recent advances in survey methods and clinical assessment. Results should be used in ongoing efforts to decrease the significant loss of life caused by suicidal behavior.
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            The adolescent brain.

            Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by suboptimal decisions and actions that are associated with an increased incidence of unintentional injuries, violence, substance abuse, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Traditional neurobiological and cognitive explanations for adolescent behavior have failed to account for the nonlinear changes in behavior observed during adolescence, relative to both childhood and adulthood. This review provides a biologically plausible model of the neural mechanisms underlying these nonlinear changes in behavior. We provide evidence from recent human brain imaging and animal studies that there is a heightened responsiveness to incentives and socioemotional contexts during this time, when impulse control is still relatively immature. These findings suggest differential development of bottom-up limbic systems, implicated in incentive and emotional processing, to top-down control systems during adolescence as compared to childhood and adulthood. This developmental pattern may be exacerbated in those adolescents prone to emotional reactivity, increasing the likelihood of poor outcomes.
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              Adolescent development.

              This chapter identifies the most robust conclusions and ideas about adolescent development and psychological functioning that have emerged since Petersen's 1988 review. We begin with a discussion of topics that have dominated recent research, including adolescent problem behavior, parent-adolescent relations, puberty, the development of the self, and peer relations. We then identify and examine what seem to us to be the most important new directions that have come to the fore in the last decade, including research on diverse populations, contextual influences on development, behavioral genetics, and siblings. We conclude with a series of recommendations for future research on adolescence.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Clinical Psychology
                Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol.
                Annual Reviews
                1548-5943
                1548-5951
                May 07 2019
                May 07 2019
                : 15
                : 1
                : 425-450
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA;,
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050718-095625
                © 2019

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