Suicidal Behavior in Children and Adolescents

Suicidal Behavior in Children and Adolescents

Barry M. Wagner
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Suicidal Behavior in Children and Adolescents
    Book Description:

    In this remarkably clear and readable evaluation of the research on this topic, Barry Wagner presents the current state of knowledge about suicidal behaviors in children and adolescents, addressing the trends of the past ten years and evaluating available treatment approaches.

    Wagner provides an in-depth examination of the problem of suicidal behavior within the context of child and adolescent behavior. Among the developmental issues covered are the evolving capacity for emotional self-regulation, change and stresses in family, peer, and romantic relationships, and developing conceptions of time and death. He also provides an up-to-date review of the controversy surrounding the possible influence of antidepressant medications on suicidal behavior. Within the context of an integrative model of the suicide crisis, Wagner discusses issues pertaining to assessment, treatment, and prevention.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15636-2
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Alan E. Kazdin

    Current Perspectives in Psychologypresents the latest discoveries and developments across the spectrum of the psychological and behavioral sciences. The series explores such important topics as learning, intelligence, trauma, stress, brain development and behavior, anxiety, interpersonal relationships, education, child-rearing, divorce and marital discord, and child, adolescent, and adult development. Each book focuses on critical advances in research, theory, methods, and applications and is designed to be accessible and informative to nonspecialists and specialists alike.

    This book focuses on suicidal behavior among children and adolescents. Dr. Barry Wagner provides a remarkably clear and integrative evaluation of the subject, and key topics...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    How can we understand the death of an adolescent by suicide? News of such an event stuns us all. Even if we never knew the teen, we shake our heads in sadness, horror, and confusion over the tragedy. When the loss is more personal—when it is our child, our brother or sister, our classmate, or our patient—we are shocked, groundless, and devastated. How could this happen? We search for answers, even when reality seemingly defies comprehension.

    It is not just death by suicide that upsets and perplexes us. How do we explain why 1 million high school students...

  6. 2 Nature and Scope of the Problem
    (pp. 7-42)

    How widespread is suicidal behavior in children and adolescents? Are boys more likely to engage in it than girls? Is it more common among the poor than among the wealthy? Are the rates higher in the United States than in other parts of the world? Th ese are the sorts of questions typically tackled by epidemiologists, scientists who study the frequency and distribution of human disorders and who investigate whether those distributions vary depending upon particular characteristics of populations. In this chapter, I present the most up-to-date information available on the incidence of completed and attempted suicide, as well as...

  7. 3 Theoretical and Developmental Considerations
    (pp. 43-77)

    In this chapter, I review the work of scholars, clinicians, and researchers who have generated theories and models to guide our quest for better understanding, treatment, and prevention of suicide and suicidal behavior. Much of this work was developed on the basis of clinical observations of suicidal individuals and is more descriptive than it is explanatory. Importantly, most of the prevailing models have not been developed specifically with regard to children or adolescents and thus either give short shrift to developmental factors or overlook them entirely. For that reason, I devote considerable attention in this chapter to reviewing developmental constructs...

  8. 4 Social Relationships
    (pp. 78-111)

    This chapter discusses two important social domains of adolescence: the family context and the peer context. In chapter 3, I described how important both of these domains are in terms of normative and positive growth and development. In this chapter, I explore the theoretical and empirical work supporting their association with the development of suicidal behavior.

    Louisa’s mother became furious after receiving a telephone call from school informing her that Louisa had been skipping classes and failing to turn in important assignments. She confronted Louisa about her dishonesty and irresponsibility that evening. As Louisa, who had been depressed for several...

  9. 5 Stress, Coping, and Emotion Regulation
    (pp. 112-138)

    Change characterizes the human condition, and, other than the first two years of life, at no phase in human development is change more pervasive and rapid than in adolescence. Everything changes. The body transforms in size, strength, and shape, in reproductive capability, in cognitive and emotional capacity and processing. Change is not limited to the adolescent—the world around the adolescent changes in many respects. Friends and other peers look differently, act differently, and want different things than they did just a short time before. Adolescents change schools, often entering expanded communities of peers, unsure of whether and how they...

  10. 6 Psychopathology
    (pp. 139-158)

    Psychopathology is probably the single most frequently studied factor in the research literature on suicidal behaviors. As we shall see, it could hardly be otherwise. The large majority of suicidal youth are afflicted with one or another form of psychopathology. Indeed, suicidal behaviors are symptoms of certain psychopathologies, specifically depression and borderline personality disorder. The relationship between psychopathology and suicidal behavior can perhaps be best understood by considering processes of coping and emotion regulation, as discussed in the previous chapter. Suicidal behavior for some people represents an effort to cope with the distress associated with symptoms of psychopathology. Beyond that,...

  11. 7 Assessment and Treatment
    (pp. 159-218)

    To say it is vital to develop the most effective possible treatments for suicidal youths is no overstatement. As noted previously, adolescents who have attempted suicide are at higher risk of completed suicide, particularly within the subsequent 12 months. Timely treatment in the aftermath of an attempt may prevent a later suicide. Of course, averting a suicide is not the only reason to provide effective intervention for suicidal youths. Follow-up studies in which suicidal youngsters are tracked over time show that such adolescents face an increased risk of suffering from distress and adjustment problems of various sorts, including recurrent suicidal...

  12. 8 Prevention
    (pp. 219-262)

    Suicide prevention seems to be an example of an idea “whose time has come.” Its history is relatively brief, but the commitment of energy and resources has surged since the mid-1990s. Prevention makes good sense. In no other arena of mental health is the potential price of waiting until the problem appears so dear. We cannot rely on treatment alone to solve the problem. Th at is no indictment of the quality of services. It simply is impossible for clinicians to reach all of the youngsters and families who are in need. Th e fact is, at least two-thirds of...

  13. References
    (pp. 263-306)
  14. Index
    (pp. 307-314)