Genetics of suicidal behavior in children and adolescents

Gil Zalsman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescence in the United States. In addition, nonfatal forms of suicidal behavior are the most common reasons for the psychiatric hospitalization of adolescents in many countries (Center for Disease Control 1994). About 1600 youngsters, age 15-19, committed suicide in the United States in 2001; 3.4 million youngsters in this age group seriously considered suicide; 1.7 million made a suicide attempt; and 590,000 made a suicide attempt sufficiently serious to require medical attention (Grunbaum et al. 2004). It is of note that not all suicidal ideation or behavior in pediatric population is directly attributable to depression (Zalsman et al. 2006c). One major survey, the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data for adolescents (Grunbaum et al. 2004), found that during the preceding 12 months, 28.6% of high school students nationwide had felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for ≥2 weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities; 16.9% of students had seriously considered attempting suicide; 16.5% of students nationwide had made a plan to attempt suicide; 8.5% of students had actually attempted suicide one or more times; and 2.9% of students nationwide had made a suicide attempt that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse. Understanding the precursors of suicidal behavior in youths is important for the treatment and prevention of suicidal behavior in this population (Grunbaum et al. 2004).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Neurobiological Basis of Suicide
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781439838822
ISBN (Print)9781439838815
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


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