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Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Jan 15;41(2):162-71.

Cerebrospinal fluid amines and higher-lethality suicide attempts in depressed inpatients.

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Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.


Previous studies have found that not all suicide attempters with major depression have reduced serotonergic activity based on low cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (CSF- 5-HIAA) levels. In this study we hypothesized that serotonergic function is lower in depressed patients who have carried out high-lethality suicide attempts resulting in more medical damage, which might explain differences in serotonergic activity among depressed suicide attempters. We assessed the relationship of CSF 5-HIAA and other amine metabolites to the most lethal lifetime suicide attempt in 22 drug-free inpatients with major depression. CSF 5-HIAA levels were lower in depressed patients with a history of a high-lethality or well-planned suicide attempt compared to depressed patients with a history of only low-lethality suicide attempt(s). Other CSF monoamine metabolites did not correlate with suicidal behavior. Low serotonergic activity may correlate with a predisposition to more lethal suicide attempts in major depression.

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