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Br J Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;177:77-83.

Total serum cholesterol in relation to psychological correlates in parasuicide.

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Department of Psychiatry, St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



Low cholesterol may act as a peripheral marker for parasuicide.


To examine the relationship between total serum cholesterol and psychological parameters in parasuicide.


Total serum cholesterol and self-rated scores for impulsivity, depression and suicidal intent were measured in 100 consecutive patients following parasuicide, pair-matched with normal and psychiatric control groups.


Backward, stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed a significantly lower mean cholesterol in the parasuicide population (P < 0.01). Across all groups there was an independent significant (P < 0.01) negative correlation between cholesterol and self-reported scores of impulsivity. No correlation existed between cholesterol and scores for depression or suicidal intent.


The data confirm previous reports of low cholesterol in parasuicide. This is the first reported investigation of the construct of impulsivity in relation to cholesterol. We hypothesise that the reported increased mortality in populations with low cholesterol may derive from increased suicide and accident rates consequent on increased tendencies to impulsivity in these populations.

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