Neurobiological aspects of suicide and suicide attempts in bipolar disorder

Daniel C. Mathews, Erica M. Richards, Mark J. Niciu, Dawn F. Ionescu, Joseph J. Rasimas, Carlos A. Zarate

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Suicide and bipolar disorder (BD) are challenging, complex, and intertwined areas of study in contemporary psychiatry. Indeed, BD is associated with the highest lifetime risk for suicide attempt and completion of all the psychiatric conditions. Given that several clinical risk factors for both suicide and BD have been well noted in the literature, exploring the neurobiological aspects of suicide in BD may provide insights into both preventive measures and future novel treatments. This review synthesizes findings regarding the neurobiological aspects of suicide and, when applicable, their link to BD. Neurochemical findings, genes/epigenetics, and potential molecular targets for current or future treatments are discussed. The role of endophenotypes and related proximal and distal risk factors underlying suicidal behavior are also explored. Lastly, we discuss the manner in which preclinical work on aggression and impulsivity may provide additional insights for the future development of novel treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalTranslational Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Glutamate
  • Neurobiology
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Suicide
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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