Risk for Suicidal Behavior in Children
The scope of Dr. Pfeffer's research is to identify and validate suicidal states in prepubertal children by a multi-focused approach that involves assessing longitudinal course of suicidal children, family psychopathology, the aftermath of suicide of relatives for children, interventions for suicidal children, and neurophysiological features of suicidal children. The goal is to link psychosocial, developmental, and biological factors to suicidal state in children. On-going studies include:
- Prospective follow-up of suicidal children. This on-going study currently aims to identify psychosocial risk factors for suicidal acts in late adolescents and young adults who have a history of prepubertal suicidal behavior. It may elucidate important risk factors for suicidal behavior during a very high-risk developmental period.
- Child survivors of suicide. This study will identify factors associated with psychiatric status and social adjustment of prepubertal children after the suicidal death of a relative. Another phase of study is the development and testing of brief interventions aimed to enhance psychosocial functioning of the children. This research may be significant in specifying early prevention methods for children at risk for suicidal behavior.
- Family psychopathology of suicidal children. This study appraises the psychiatric symptoms and disorders and family functioning of suicidal children to identify inter-generational correlations to early onset suicidal behavior.
- Psychopharmacological treatment of violent-prone children. This study specifically evaluates the efficacy and safety of Buspirone, an azapirone with serotonergic mechanisms of actions, for treatment of anxious aggressive prepubertal children who are at risk for suicidal or assaultive behavior. This study may identify specific approaches to decrease risk for suicidal states in children.
- Adjunctive investigations aim to elucidate aspects of personality traits, serotonergic indices, and social supports that are pertinent to risk or prevention of suicidal behavior in prepubertal children.