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decorative star graphic  Adolescence:
Psychosocial Development
- Adolescent Suicide -

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Ψ  Adolescence is usually an OK time, but for some, serious problems plague this period of life. Unfortunately most adolescence problems have comorbidity. Comorbidity is the presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder. The term dual diagnosis is often applied to the comorbid existence of both a mental disorder & substance abuse.

Ψ  Adolescents think about suicide often - a sign that depression is prevalent during these years. Among adolescents & young adults (ages 15 - 24), the suicide rate is 10.4 per 100.000 making it the third leading cause of death.

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

Ψ  Terms

    Comorbidity: The presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder. The term "comorbid" currently has two definitions: 1) to indicate a medical condition existing simultaneously but independently with another condition in a patient (this is the older & more "correct" definition) 2) to indicate a medical condition in a patient that causes, is caused by, or is otherwise related to another condition in the same patient (this is a newer, nonstandard definition & less well-accepted).

    Rumination (mental) is contemplation or reflection on a particular topic. If very persistent or repetitively focused on problems, it is thought to play a role in the development of clinical depression. It is more common among females than males.

    Suicidal Ideation: Thinking about suicide, usually with some serious emotional & intellectual overtones. So common that it can be considered "normal"  for teenagers.

    Parasuicide: A deliberate act of self-destruction that does not end in death. Parasuicide can be fleeting, such as a small knife mark on the wrist, or potentially lethal, such as swallowing an entire bottle of pills. Usually carried out in a state of extreme emotional agitation & confusion.

Ψ  Whether or not suicidal ideation leads to a plan, a parasuicide, or death depends on
•  Availability of lethal means, especially guns
 •  Parental supervision
  •  Alcohol & other drugs
   •  Attitudes about suicide in the culture
    •  Gender

    Note: Adolescent romanticism underlies many cluster suicides.

Ψ  A number of factors have been found to be related to adolescent suicide. Adolescents may have psychological problems such as depression, drug related problems, or feeling of helplessness. They may show behavioral symptoms , such as antisocial behavior, social isolation & withdrawal, & difficulties with family & peers.

Ψ  Usually suicide is preceded by events or feelings (precipitators) that may include problems with relationships, bouts of depression, or drinking (drug usage).

Ψ  Suicide is usually considered an emotional internalizing problem, because completed suicides are the ultimate example of self-harm; however, some use suicide to "get-back" at others thus acting outward (externalizing).

Ψ  Program proposed by therapists to help identify risk factors & prevent suicide:

     1. Identify risk factors, including depression, drug abuse, previous attempts, recent suicide of a friend & major life stressors, such as family turmoil or parental separation.

     2. Crisis management (intervention following a suicide)

     3. Suicide hot-line services (24 - 7)

    Note: Adolescents do NOT have the highest rate of suicide, the elderly because of their often serious health problems do.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates
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