The relationship between DST results and suicidal behavior

Donald W. Black, Patrick O. Monahan, George Winokur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


The authors assessed the relationship between dexamethasone suppression test (DST) results and suicidal ideations and behavior. Four-hundred-twenty-three mood disorder patients admitted to a tertiary care medical center were administered the DST from 1978 to 1981. The patients were subsequently followed up to determine death status using a record-linkage method. More than 44% had abnormal cortisol suppression (nonsuppressors) at the index admission. Suppressors and nonsuppressors did not differ significantly with respect to frequency of suicidal ideations or completed suicides. Suppressors were significantly more likely than nonsuppressors to have a history of suicide attempts or to have a suicide attempt following hospital discharge. Using logistic regression, and controlling for several important variables including diagnosis, maximum postdexamethasone cortisol was not significantly associated with suicide, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts. We conclude that an abnormal DST is not useful as a predictor of suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002


  • Affective disorders
  • Dexamethasone suppression test (DST)
  • Serum cortisol
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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