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Cholesterol levels discounted as a biological marker for suicide risk among alcoholics

  • Alcoholism is a major risk factor for suicidal behavior.
  • Prior research has suggested that cholesterol may be a general biological marker for suicide risk.
  • New research discounts cholesterol levels as a biological marker for suicide attempt risk among alcoholics, but identifies a "profile" of patients at risk.
Alcoholism is a major risk factor for suicidal behavior. Previous research has suggested that cholesterol may serve as a biological marker for suicide risk among various psychiatric patient groups. In the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers examine both demographic factors and selected serum lipid concentrations in alcoholic patients. Results do not support an association between cholesterol and suicide attempts; however, they do indicate that alcoholic patients who attempt suicide have a particular profile.

"Up to seven percent of alcoholic patients die from suicide, and about one third of these patients attempt suicide at least once in life," said Eberhard A. Deisenhammer, associate professor of psychiatry at the Innsbruck Medical University and corresponding author for the study. "However, since many alcoholics are reluctant to seek treatment for their problem, a significant portion of potentially suicidal alcoholic patients go undetected. We wanted to investigate if elevated serum cholesterol levels could serve to identify these individuals early enough to help them."

"Recent studies have found that individuals with lower cholesterol levels may be more likely to either attempt or complete suicide, but the evidence is far from established," added Guilherme Luiz Guimaraes Borges, a professor of epidemiology at the Universidad Autnoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco in Mexico City. "Given that several disorders, as part of their prevention or treatment strategies, call for a reduction in levels of cholesterol in the blood, this study could have repercussions for trea
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22-Feb-2006


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