Low testosterone levels in aging men may mediate the observed increase in suicide in this age group

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This short communication suggests that there may be biological in addition to psychosocial reasons underlying the rise in suicide among older men. Testosterone, the major male sex hormone, has attracted interest as a putative biological mediator of suicide risk, but observational data have been mixed. Age stratification may reveal that high levels of testosterone in adolescents and young adults but low levels in the elderly may mediate suicide risk. A putative age-testosterone-suicide differential may be mediated by divergent central nervous system architecture between adolescents and the elderly. Whereas the prefrontal and prefontal-limbic connectivity underdevelopment observed in adolescents may render vulnerability to testosterone-mediated increases in impulsivity as a risk factor for suicide, declining function of dopaminergic striato-thalamic reward pathways in the aging cohort may render older men vulnerable to the loss of testosterone's protective effects against anhedonia, thereby increasing suicide risk through a different biological pathway. Further research is needed regarding the role of hypotestosteronemia in elderly suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • men's mental health
  • suicide
  • testosterone


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