How to save a life: From neurobiological underpinnings to psychopharmacotherapies in the prevention of suicide
Gonda, X., Dome, P., Serafini, G., & Pompili, M.
The impact of suicide on our societies, mental healthcare, and public health is beyond questionable. Every year approximately 700 000 lives are lost due to suicide around the world (WHO, 2021); more people die by suicide than by homicide and war. Although suicide is a key issue and reducing suicide mortality is a global imperative, suicide is a highly complex biopsychosocial phenomenon, and in spite of several suicidal models developed in recent years and a high number of suicide risk factors identified, we still have neither a sufficient understanding of underpinnings of suicide nor adequate management strategies to reduce its prevalence. The present paper first overviews the background of suicidal behavior including its epidemiology, age and gender correlations, and its association with neuropsychiatric disorders as well as its clinical assessment. Then we give an overview of the etiological background, including its biopsychosocial contexts, genetics and neurobiology. Based on the above, we then provide a critical overview of the currently available intervention options to manage and reduce risk of suicide, including psychotherapeutic modalities, traditional medication classes also providing an up-to-date overview on the antisuicidal effects of lithium, as well as novel molecules such as esketamine and emerging medications and further molecules in development. Finally we give a critical overview on our current knowledge on using neuromodulatory and biological therapies, such as ECT, rTMS, tDCS, and other options.