Biological responses to acute stress and suicide: a review and opportunities for methodological innovation
Miller, A.B.; Eisenlohr-Moul, T.A.
Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports 6: 141-150
While rates of other medical illnesses have declined over the past several decades, rates of suicide have increased, particularly among adolescents. Prior research on biological underpinnings of suicide risk has remained limited. In this review, we describe a recent model conceptualizing suicide as a failure of biological responses to acute stress. According to this model, youth who fail to mount an adaptive stress response following exposure to a stressor are at acute risk for suicide. Although much more research is needed, early evidence suggests that abnormal biological responses to acute stress, such as altered autonomic nervous system activity and altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, may underlie risk for suicide, particularly during the transition to adolescence. Overall, initial evidence supports a link between biological responses to acute stress and suicide risk. However, future work that incorporates makers of other biological and environmental systems will sharpen our understanding of who is at suicide risk and when this risk is highest.