Katalin Szanto, M.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

SzantoK [at] upmc [dot] edu

+1 (412) 586-9601

Research Focus

My research focuses on suicidal behavior and mood disorders. I have extensive experience treating suicidal patients and their families. My research experience includes conducting a psychological autopsy study, a suicide prevention program in primary care, extensive experience in interviewing practitioners who have lost patients by suicide, and conducting a long-term follow-up study on risk and protective factors for late-life suicide. My current research focuses on decision process in late-life suicide, including a behavioral economics based formulation of suicidal behavior.

Clinical Interests

My clinical focus is the evaluation and treatment of patients with mood disorders and suicidal behavior.


  1. Alex Dombrovski
  2. Meryl Butters
  3. Charles F. Reynolds III
  4. Howard Aizenstein
  5. Michael Hallquist
  1. Luke Clark (Cambridge)
  2. Wandi Bruine de Bruin (Leeds)
  3. Barbara Sahakin (Cambridge)
  4. John Keilp (Columbia)
  5. Jeff Bridge (Ohio State)

Selected Publications

Prevention of suicide/pharmacological and psychosocial interventions with those who have attempted suicide

Szanto K, Lenze E, Waern M, Duberstein P, Bruce ML, Epstein-Lubow G, and Conwell Y: Research to Reduce the Suicide Rate Among Older Adults: Methodology Roadblocks and Promising Paradigms. Psychatric Services, 2013.

Hendin H, Maltsberger T, Szanto K: The Psychosocial Context of the Trauma in Treating PTSD Patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2008.

Kalmar S, Szanto K, Rihmer Z, Mazumdar S, Harrison K, and Mann JJ: Antidepressant prescription and suicide rates: effect of age and gender. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 2008.

Szanto K, Mulsant BH, Houck PR, Dew MA, Dombrovski A, Pollock BG, and Reynolds CF III: Emergence, persistence, and resolution of suicidal ideation during treatment of depression in old age. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2007.

Szanto K, Kalmar S, Hendin H, Rihmer Z, Mann JJ: A Suicide prevention program in a very high suicide rate region. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2007

Hendin H, Maltsberger JT, Hass Pollinger A, Rabinowitcz H, Szanto K: Problems in psychotherapy of suicidal patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2006.

Hendin H, Hass Pollinger A, Maltsberger JT, Szanto K: Factors contributing to therapists' distress after the suicide of a patient. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2004.

Szanto K, Mulsant BH, Houck P, Dew, MA, Reynolds CF III: Occurrence and course of suicidality during acute treatment of late-life depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2003.

Decision making and cognitive factors related to suicidal behavior

Szanto K, Bruine de Bruin W, Parker A, Hallquist M, Vanyukov P, Dombrovski A: Decision-making Competence and Attempted Suicide. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2015.

Bruine de Bruin W, Dombrovski A, Parker A, Szanto K: Late-life Depression, Suicidal Ideation, and Attempted Suicide: The Role of Individual Differences in Maximizing, Regret, and Negative Decision Outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 2015.

Dombrovski A, Szanto K, Clark L, Aizenstein H, Chase H, Reynolds III C, Siegle G: Corticostriatothalamic reward prediction error signals and executive control in late-life depression. Psychological Medicine, 2015

Kiosses D, Szanto K, Alexopoulos G: Suicide in Older Adults: The Role of Emotions and Cognition. Current Psychiatry Reports, 2014.

Richard-Devantoy S, Szanto K, Butters M, Kalkus J, Dombrovski A: Cognitive inhibition in older high-lethality suicide attempters. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2014.

Szanto K, Clark L, Hallquist M, Vanyukov P, Crockett M, Dombrovski AY: The cost of social punishment and high-lethality suicide attempts in the second half of life Psychology and Aging, 2014

Dombrovski AY, Szanto K, Clark L, Reynolds CF III, Siegle GJ: Reward Signals, Attempted Suicide, and Impulsivity in Late-Life Depression. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013

Gujral S, Dombrovski AY, Butters M, Clark L, Reynolds III CF, Szanto K: Impaired Executive Function in Contemplated and Attempted Suicide in Late Life. American Journal of Geriatric Psych, 2013

Szanto K, Dombrovski AY, Sahakian BJ, Mulsant BH, Houck PR, Reynolds CF III, Clark L: Social emotion recognition, social functioning, and attempted suicide in late-life depression. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2012.

McGirr A, Dombrovski AY, Butters MA, Clark L, Szanto K: Deterministic learning and attempted suicide among older depressed individuals: cognitive assessment using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2012.

Dombrovski AY, Siegle GJ, Szanto K, Clark L, Reynolds CF III, Aizenstein H: The temptation of suicide: striatal gray matter, discounting of delayed rewards, and suicide attempts in late-life depression. Psychological Medicine, 2012.

Dombrovski AY, Szanto K, Siegle GJ, Wallace ML, Forman SD, Sahakian B, Reynolds CF III, Clark L: Lethal forethought: Delayed reward discounting differentiates high- and low-lethality suicide attempts in old age. Biological Psychiatry, 2011.

Clark L, Dombrovski AY, Siegle GJ, Butters MA, Shollenberger C, Sahakian BJ, Szanto K: Impairment in risk-sensitive decision-making in older suicide attempters. Psychology and Aging, 2011.

Dombrovski AY, Clark L, Siegle GJ, Butters MA, Ichikawa N, Sahakian B, and Szanto K: Reward/Punishment Reversal Learning in Older Suicide Attempters. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2010.

Gibbs LM, Dombrovski AY, Morse JQ, Siegle GJ, Houck PR, Szanto K: When the solution is part of the problem: Problem solving in elderly suicide attempters. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2009.

Clinical and social risk and protective factors for late-life suicide

Szanto K, Reynolds CF III, Conwell Y, Begley A, Houck P: High levels of hopelessness persist in geriatric patients with remitted depression and a history of suicide attempt. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1998.

Szanto K, Prigerson H, Houck P, Reynolds CF III: Suicidal ideation in elderly bereavement: the role of complicated grief. Suicide and life-threatening behavior, 1997.

Book Chapters

Szanto K: Suicide in the Second Half of Life: Cognition and Decision Processes. Suicide: Phenomenology and Neurobiology, 2014.

Szanto K: Ambivalence, Warning Signs, and Decision Making. Suicide in the Words of Suicidologists, 2010.