Association between violent suicidal behavior and the low activity allele of the serotonin transporter gene

Mol Psychiatry. 2001 May;6(3):338-41. doi: 10.1038/


There is compelling evidence that serotonin system dysfunction is associated with certain behavioral disorders, such as suicidal behavior and impulsive aggression. A functional polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) was recently identified and the presence of the short allele found to be associated with a lower level of expression of the gene, lower levels of 5-HT uptake, suicidal behavior and anxiety-related traits. We genotyped 51 West European Caucasians who had made violent suicide attempts and 139 controls of the same ethnic origin, with no history of suicidal behavior. The frequencies of the S allele and the SS genotype were significantly higher in the violent suicide attempters than in the controls. The odds ratio for the SS genotype vs the LL genotype was 3.63 (95% CI (1.27--10.40)). This suggests that a change in expression of the gene encoding the 5-HT transporter may be involved in violent suicidal behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Violence


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins