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Effective treatments for suicidal youth: Pharmacological and psychosocial approaches 

Effective treatments for suicidal youth: Pharmacological and psychosocial approaches
Effective treatments for suicidal youth: Pharmacological and psychosocial approaches

David Brent

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date: 05 July 2022

There are few empirically tested treatments for suicidal adolescents. In this chapter, the relationship between adolescent depression and suicidal behaviour is reviewed, as well as the risk factors for suicidal behaviour in depressed adolescents. The impact of psychosocial and pharmacotherapeutic interventions on depression and on suicidal outcomes is reviewed, including recent reports that SSRIs may be associated with an increase in spontaneously reported suicidal adverse events. We then review the few empirically tested psychosocial interventions for the treatment of suicide-attempting adolescents, including treatments that target family interactions, cognitions, social and emotion regulation skills, and the social ecology (either social network or school) of the suicidal adolescent. Studies have also examined the impact of different aspects of clinical management, such as the development of a safety plan, providing open access to an inpatient unit, and augmenting usual care with occasional postcards from clinical staff. The possible impact of lithium, divalproex, neuroleptics, and SSRIs in the reduction of impulsive aggression and suicidal risk is also discussed. Recommendations for further research are advanced.

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