Clinical characteristics and biological parameters in temperamental clusters of suicide attempters

Gunnar Engström, Christer Alling, P Gustavsson, L Oreland, Lil Träskman Bendz

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A sample of 215 suicide attempters was categorized in a cluster analysis into four groups according to temperamental trails. Monoamine metabolites in the cerebrospinal fluid were analysed (n = 106). Dexamethasone suppression tests (DST) were performed (n = 154) and the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase in platelets (pl-MAO) was assessed (n = 103). Patients belonging to the two clusters with the most deviant temperament profiles (nos 2 and 3) were young and scored high on the Beck Hopelessness Scale and the Suicide Assessment Scale. "Cluster 3" ("neurotic, impulsive, aggressive") patients often had dysthymia and axis II, cluster B diagnoses (e.g. borderline or histrionic personality). "Cluster 2" ("neurotic and introverted") patients often had major depression. The "Cluster 1", with on the whole a normal temperament profile, had significantly higher levels of post-DST cortisol than the other clusters. The "Cluster 4" had a normal temperament profile. Adjustment disorders were most common in "Cluster 1" and "Cluster 4". The monoamine metabolite levels did not differ between the clusters, and the differences in pl-MAO activity disappeared after adjusting for age and gender. The results suggest that temperament profiles in suicide attempters are related to psychiatric diagnoses, suicidality, hopelessness, and post-DST cortisol, but are not predictive of completed suicide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychiatry


  • Temperament
  • Suicide attempts
  • Depression
  • Monoamine metabolites
  • Monoamine oxidase
  • Dexamethasone


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