Peter M Marzuk   Gertrude Feil Associate Dean of Curricular Affairs

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Suicide, violence, and substance abuse

The goal is to identify new risk factors for suicide, to describe temporal-spatial patterns of suicide, and to examine the role of substance abuse in contributing to suicide, violence, and fatal accidents. Goal is to provide a basis for clinical prediction of self-destructive behaviors and for public health policy concerning prevention of suicide, violence and drug abuse. We also consider such issues as gun control, euthanasia, and the dangers of drug legalization.

1. The role of drugs, especially cocaine, opiates, and alcohol in contributing to suicides, homicides, sublethal intentional injuries and fatal accidents.

2. Risk factors for HIV-related suicides, in particular, HIV encephalitis.

3. Development of a model of a suicidal mental state incorporating cognitive and affective components. The ultimate goal is the study of suicidal states with functional neuroimaging.

4. Studies seeking to describe the relationships among suicidal intent, choice of method, and lethality of attempt, are designed to examine how an individual's access to lethal methods of injury, e.g. firearms or drugs, contributes to mortality. These studies also attempt to distinguish suicides on the basis of planning or impulsivity and explore new types of suicidal behaviors as possible markers for predicting a future suicide attempt or completion.

5. Police suicides. This project assesses the temporal trends in the rates of suicide among New York City police officers over several decades. The ultimate goal is development of suicide prevention strategies in the police department.

6. Other studies examine the role of poverty, social disruption, racial-ethnic differences, and social "contagion" in contributing to the suicide risk of populations.


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