• Does Testosterone Affect Suicidality? - Chromatography Explores


Does Testosterone Affect Suicidality? - Chromatography Explores

May 02 2020

The rates of suicides in the UK has increased in the latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics. Over 6500 suicides were registered by UK coroners in 2018, which was an increase of 11.8% over the previous year and a rise to the highest level since 2002. The UK rate for males was 17.2 deaths per 100000 people, for females 5.4 deaths per 100000 people - with hanging the most common method of committing suicide.

But behind the cold figures listed are stories of real people often in desperate situations who cannot cope with what life has to offer. And behind these people are families and friends who are devastated at the loss of a loved one. The reasons why so many more men commit suicide is unknown, but some hypothesis link the differences in the levels of androgens circulating in the body. A recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders reports on a nine-year study to assess the impact of plasma androgens on suicide.

Testosterone in the blood

Several studies have reported that there is a link between testosterone levels and suicide in both men and women. In one case researchers found that both plasma and cerebral spinal fluid testosterone levels were higher in nine male suicide attempters when compared to the levels in 12 healthy control males. But two other studies suggested that there were lower plasma testosterone levels in 15 and 80 suicide attempters compared to controls. Studies in women are equally inconsistent.

Part of the issue with measuring testosterone in suicide attempters is that the actual suicide attempt might induce acute stress which would have a direct affect on the testosterone levels measured. The team behind the paper referenced above analysed the androgens in a large study of 2861 men and women over nine years and compared the results with actual attempts and suicide thoughts over the nine years.

Chromatography measures androgens

Initially, the team measured the androgens in the plasma of 2861 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 to obtain baseline androgens levels. The subjects were all suffering from a depressive or anxiety linked illness. The use of chromatography to analyse hormones in plasma samples is discussed in the article, Online Solid Phase Extraction and LC/MS Analysis of Thyroid Hormones in Human Serum.

The team used the Suicidal Ideation Scale to assess the mood and suicidal thoughts of participants. The team concluded, that followed a large sample of participants over nine years, showed the absence of significant associations between plasma androgens and suicidality. So, the link between testosterone and suicide has not been proved.

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