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Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:72-5.

Sudden death and suicide: a comparison of brain weight.

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Department of Histopathology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK.



Recent evidence suggests that the brain weight of individuals over the age of 60 who commit suicide is significantly higher than in those who die of natural causes.


To ascertain whether brain weight is different in people of a younger age who commit suicide than in those who die accidentally.


A retrospective review of post-mortem reports collecting height, weight and brain weight in 100 suicide victims (87 males, mean age 38.5 years) and 100 age/gender-matched controls who died accidentally or of natural causes (87 males, mean age 38.7 years). Comparison by t-test was made of brain weight in isolation as well as brain weight corrected for height, weight and body mass index.


These results reveal no significant difference in brain weight in suicide cases compared to the general population (P > 0.05). The brain weight of those who died by hanging was significantly higher than of those who died by overdose.


Whatever the significant neuropsychiatric elements are that influence suicidal behaviour, they do not consistently affect brain weight in the population studied.

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