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J Clin Psychiatry. 1990 Apr;51 Suppl:22-8; discussion 29-30.

Postmortem evidence for serotonin's role in suicide.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.


Despite major advances in psychiatry in the past three decades, the rate of suicide has not declined. In an effort to better understand suicide, recent research has examined the importance of biochemical factors in this behavior. Biochemical studies of suicide victims and attempters have indicated that either serotonin (5-HT) or its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) is reduced in this population when compared with individuals who do not exhibit suicidal behavior. Also, alterations in 5-HT receptors have been observed in suicide victims. While the biochemical findings are promising, it appears that an approach that combines psychosocial and biochemical factors offers the greatest promise for improved identification of suicide risk.

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