Jacobs Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science

Suicidal Behaviour in Young Adults: A Literature Overview on Neurobiological, Epidemiological and Psychosocial Aspects

Published on: 2016-12-01


Suicidal behavior is considered a very serious public health problem. The World Health Organization has estimated a yearly total of 800, 000 deaths by suicide worldwide. Several recent studies have focused on suicidal behavior in young adults as, in this population, suicide represents the second cause of mortality after road-accident induced deaths. Neurobiological findings on suicidal behavior in young adults have highlighted pathological alterations of various physiological systems, such as the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, the serotonergic and noradrenergic pathways. Dysfunctions of neurotrophin production as well as genetic factors are also considered key players in this context. Among risk factors associated with suicidal behavior in young adults, specific sociodemographic, cultural and social characteristics, as well as the presence of psychiatric comorbidities, have been identified as crucial components. In particular, the role of the familial entourage and of possible conflicting relationships experienced with relatives has been largely investigated. In this review, we will provide an overview of the main neuropsychiatric, epidemiological and psychosocial aspects of the suicidal behavior in young adults. Actual knowledge on prevention strategies together with psychosocial and pharmacological approaches will be also discussed.


Suicide; Young Adults; Neurobiological Alterations; Psychiatric Comorbidities; Prevention Strategies; Family