Alcohol and suicidal behavior in adolescents

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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 - Aug 2006


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Suicide


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