More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Brain Chemical Linked to Teen Suicides in Study
Mon Jul 5, 2004

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A brain enzyme known to be involved in mood disorders may be in short supply in the brains of teenage suicide victims, a finding that could point to possible drug therapy, researchers said on Monday.

Whether the lack of the enzyme, protein kinase C (PKC), was a cause or an effect of the mental state that led to suicide was not clear from the post-mortem study of the brains of 34 teenagers, half of whom had committed suicide and the rest who died from other causes.

The researchers said the lower levels of the enzyme may be related to abnormalities in the interactions between the brain and hormonal glands. The enzyme is targeted by some mood-stabilizing drugs.

Whatever the mechanism, the decreased level of the enzyme is a "vitally important observation that will help not only in understanding the neurobiological profile of teen suicide but also in advancing ideas for therapeutic intervention," said study author Ghanshyam Pandey of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Thirty thousand Americans die of suicide annually and it is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers.

The suicide rate has risen sharply among male teenagers in the past two decades, said the study, published in the July issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry.


Brain chemical linked to teen suicides in study

a finding that could point to possible drug therapy
Drug therapy = stop taking prozac and similar drugs.

Also, let's remember that anger and other emotions manifest through chemicals... Rather than drugging the teenager to make him forget his problems, wouldn't it be better to identify what these problems are and find a real, fulfilling solution to them? If teen suicide rates have grown so high in the last twenty years (at least in America), wouldn't it be for the best to find out why? Probably, but hey, fixing any real problems won't help the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, curing teen depression as a social epidemic would only undermine its profits.

I'm guessing chemicals might play some part in this, though - after all, the mad hatters of England suffered from mercury poisoning. The solution, then, wouldn't involve creating new drugs, but banning whatever neurotoxins are causing depression.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Brain chemical linked to teen suicides in study

I would never advocate medicating somebody and leaving it at that - you are correct in that you still need to help the person learn more effective coping skills and discover what is triggering the depression or suicidal thinking.

On the other hand, I have seen too many people significantly benefit from medications such as Prozac to dismiss their contribution to treatment, Indeed, all the research that has asked the appropriate questions has told us very clearly that the most effective treatment for disorders treated by these medications is a combination of medication and psychotherapy, both in terms of speed of recovery and in terms of preventing relapse. In the vast majority of cases, neither alone is as effective as both together.
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