Suicide is defined as the act of intentionally ending one's own life. Nonfatal suicidal thoughts and behaviors (hereafter called suicidal behaviors) are classified more specifically into three categories. The first of these is suicide ideation, which refers to thoughts of engaging in behavior intended to end one's life. A suicide plan refers to the formulation of a specific means by which one intends to die. Finally, a suicide attempt is the engagement in potentially self-injurious behavior where the intention to die is present to some extent.

Suicide is a serious public health problem in the USA and around the world. Over 30,000 people in the USA and approximately 1 million people worldwide die by suicide each year, making it one of the leading causes of death (World Health Organization 1996; U.S. Public Health Service 1999; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2000). Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that suicide accounts for the largest share of the intentional injury burden in developed countries (Mathers et al. 2003) and that suicide is projected to become an even greater contributor to the global burden of disease over the coming decades (Murray and Lopez 1996; Mathers and Loncar 2006). Moreover, in most Western countries, a gender paradox of suicidal behavior is observed. Rates of suicidal ideation and behavior are higher in females than males. However, mortality from suicide is typically lower for females.

Suicidal behavior (death and attempts) is usually a complication associated with a broad spectrum of psychiatric conditions, most commonly with mood disorders (Mann 2003). Suicidal behavior is also present in patients with schizophrenia, substance and alcohol abuse, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders among others (Mann 2003).

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada e-mail: [email protected]

G. Di Giovanni et al. (eds.), 5-HT2C Receptors in the Pathophysiology of CNS Disease, 261 The Receptors 22, DOI 10.1007/978-1-60761-941-3_13, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

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