The Cause

While the reasons that teens commit suicide vary widely, there are some common situations and circumstances that seem to lead to such extreme measures.

  • Major disappointment
  • Rejection
  • Failure
  • A loss such as breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Failing a big exam
  • Witnessing family turmoil.

Since the overwhelming majority of those who commit suicide have a mental or substance-related disorder, they often have difficulty coping with crippling stressors. They are unable to see that their life can turn around, and unable to recognize that suicide is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Usually, the common reasons for suicide listed above are actually not the "causes" of the suicide, but rather triggers for suicide in a person suffering from a mental illness or substance-related disorder.

More recently, scientists have focused on the biology of suicide. Suicide is thought by some to have a genetic component. Research has show strong evidence that mental and substance-related disorders, which commonly affect those who end up committing suicide, do run in families. While the suicide of a relative is not a direct cause of suicide in another family member, it does, put certain individuals at more risk than others.

Research has also explored the specific brain chemistry of those who take their own lives. Recent studies indicate that those who have attempted suicide may also have low levels of the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin helps control impulsivity, and low levels of the brain chemical are thought to cause more impulsive behavior. Suicides are often committed out of impulse. Antidepressant drugs affecting serotonin are used to treat depression, impulsivity, and suicidal thoughts. However, much more research is needed to confirm these hypotheses and, hopefully, lead to more definite indicators of treatment for those prone to suicide.

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