Are structural brain abnormalities associated with suicidal behavior inpatients with psychotic disorders?

Christoforos I. Giakoumatos, Neeraj Tandon, Jai Shah, Ian T. Mathew, Roscoe O. Brady, Brett A. Clementz, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Gunvant K. Thaker, Carol A. Tamminga, John A. Sweeney, Matcheri S. Keshavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Suicide represents a major health problem world-wide. Nevertheless, the understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of suicidal behavior remains far from complete. We compared suicide attempters to non-attempters, and high vs. low lethality attempters, to identify brain regions associated with suicidal behavior in patients with psychotic disorders. 489 individuals with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic bipolar disorder I and 262 healthy controls enrolled in the B-SNIP study were studied. Groups were compared by attempt history and the highest medical lethality of previous suicide attempts. 97 patients had a history of a high lethality attempt, 51 of a low lethality attempt and 341 had no attempt history. Gray matter volumes were obtained from 3T structural MRI scans using FreeSurfer. ANCOVAs were used to examine differences between groups, followed by Hochberg multiple comparison correction. Compared to non-attempters, attempters had significantly less gray matter volume in bilateral inferior temporal and superior temporal cortices, left superior parietal, thalamus and supramarginal regions, right insula, superior frontal and rostral middle frontal regions. Among attempters, a history of high lethality attempts was associated with significantly smaller volumes in the left lingual gyrus and right cuneus. Compared to non-attempters, low lethality attempters had significant decreases in the left supramarginal gyrus, thalamus and the right insula. Structural brain abnormalities may distinguish suicide attempters from non-attempters and high from low lethality attempters among individuals with psychotic disorders. Regions in which differences were observed are part of neural circuitries that mediate inhibition, impulsivity and emotion, visceral, visual and auditory perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1389-1395
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Imaging
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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