Adolescents who kill themselves invariably have an underlying psychiatric
disorder. Biological markers are not yet clinically useful for identifying
adolescents at risk, and there is a paucity of research data on the effectiveness
of behavioral intervention for suicidal teenagers. A case of a 16-year-old
scholar and athlete is presented to illustrate how multiple risk factors and
a family diathesis often go undetected, resulting in tragic consequences.
Psychiatric, familial, genetic, and social risk factors of adolescent suicide
are reviewed, and the efficacy of lithium and antidepressant pharmacotherapy
in reducing suicide rates is discussed. The importance of screening adolescent
patients for depression is emphasized. Although teenage suicide is rare and
hard to predict, identifying and treating adolescents at risk is essential
to further reduce teenage suicide.
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