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Psychodynamic and family aspects of youth suicide 

Psychodynamic and family aspects of youth suicide
Psychodynamic and family aspects of youth suicide

Robert A King

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date: 05 July 2022

The psychodynamic approach to suicide examines the meaning and origins of suicidal behaviour in terms of the vicissitudes of feelings, motives, self-concept, and interpersonal relationships. Negative or poorly differentiated self-concept; maladaptive defensive or attachment style; and isolative, avoidant, or self-critical personality traits appear to be important risk factors for suicidality in youth.

Across diverse national contexts, adolescent suicidality is associated with family factors such as parental psychopathology, negative life events, family discord, negative parent–child relationship (including abuse and neglect), and low perceived family support. Further research is needed to understand the intervening variables linking such family factors to suicide, including delineating the relative contributions of shared genetic risk (e.g. for psychopathology or maladaptive traits) versus the negative developmental impact of adverse family environment.

The developmental challenges of adolescence increase the vulnerability to suicidal ideation and behaviour. How specific national or cultural contexts mitigate or exacerbate these factors remains an important area for further study.

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