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Laboratory of Suicide Studies

The Laboratory of Suicide Studies aims to support the design and conduct of research on the correlates of, and risk factors for, suicidal behaviors across the life span. Our research may involve basic social, behavioral, and biological, preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies of suicide that form the building blocks for preventive intervention research.

Faculty & Staff


Studies of Completed Suicide

  • "Suicide in later life: a psychological autopsy study" (R01 MH54682); Y. Conwell, PI. 4/1/96-3/31/01. A psychological autopsy (PA) study that compared 86 suicide victims over age 50 years in Monroe and Onondaga Counties and 86 community dwelling, individually matched controls with regard to hypothesized risk factors for suicide in five domains – psychiatric illness, personality traits, physical health and functional status, and social supports. Data collection is complete and analyses are under way.
  • "Violence and completed suicide" (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention); K.R. Conner, PI. 9/1/99-8/31/01. A psychological autopsy study that compares 50 suicide victims age 18-49 in Monroe County and 50 community dwelling, demographically matched controls with regard to committing violent acts against others in the past three months, history of severe interpersonally violent acts, and variety of relationships in which violence has occurred.
  • "Alcohol dependence and suicide" (NIAAA K-23, K.R. Conner, PI 9/1/01-8/31/06. The core research project for this career development award is a psychological autopsy study that compares 60 alcohol dependent suicide victims age 18-49 in Monroe County and six surrounding rural counties with 60 demographically matched alcohol dependent community controls and 60 alcohol dependent clinical controls. Comparisons are in four dimensions: aggression, depression, attachment disruption, and alcohol and drug misuse severity.
  • "Alcoholism and suicide" (R-03 submitted to NIAAA, pending funding); Dr. Conner will examine in another study the risk factors for completed suicide and medically serious suicide attempts through secondary analyses of data gathered in the Canterbury area of New Zealand between 1991 and 1994. His collaborator in that study will be Annette Beautrais, Ph.D.
    Studies of attempted suicide and suicidal ideation
  • "Attempted suicide in late life major depression" (R01 MH51201); Y. Conwell, PI. 9/1/93-8/31/99. Analyses are ongoing, several publications have been submitted, and others are being prepared from this case control study of 100 major depressives over age 50 years who were admitted to area hospitals following a suicide attempt and 100 demographically matched, non-suicide attempting major depressive controls. Data were collected from both subjects and from a subsample of subjects’ informants using the same measures as in the study of completed suicide noted above. Publications are under review using parallel data sources of normal elders, nonsuicidal depressives, depressed suicide attempters, and completed suicides with major depression to assess the robustness of PA-type research methods.
    Studies of other risk factors
  • "Emotion in late-life psychology" (K08 MH001408); L. Seidlitz, P.I. 3/10/98-2/28/2000. Dr. Seidlitz conducted research that investigated the contributions of emotions to psychopathology in older adults, focusing particularly on the roles of subjective experience and facial expressions of emotions. He collected data for a study comparing outpatient major depressives with nondepressed controls in the experience and facial expression of emotions, and additional analyses are planned to examine the emotion concomitants of suicidal ideation. Recently he has made a personal decision to pursue another life path in a Buddhist ashram; however, active data analysis continues in Rochester among collaborating investigators and they, together with Dr. Seidlitz, are preparing results for publication.
  • "Postpartum depression in a pediatric clinic" (1K23 MH64476); L. Chaudron, PI. (Priority score of 177 on first submission, undergoing revision for resubmission). Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious public health problem affecting 10-20% of American women, but remains a poorly detected disorder by both women and the clinicians, in part due to inadequate detection strategies. The proposed research aims to characterize the depressive diagnoses, depressive symptomatology and psychiatric comorbidity throughout the postpartum year among women presenting their infants for well baby visits to an urban pediatrics clinic. This research project focuses on a primarily African-American population of young women.