Acoustical properties of speech as
indicators of depression and suicidal risk

France DJ, Shiavi RG, Silverman S,
Silverman M, Wilkes DM
L-3 Communications,
Salt Lake City,
UT 84103, USA.
IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 2000 Jul; 47(7):829-37


Acoustic properties of speech have previously been identified as possible cues to depression, and there is evidence that certain vocal parameters may be used further to objectively discriminate between depressed and suicidal speech. Studies were performed to analyze and compare the speech acoustics of separate male and female samples comprised of normal individuals and individuals carrying diagnoses of depression and high-risk, near-term suicidality. The female sample consisted of ten control subjects, 17 dysthymic patients, and 21 major depressed patients. The male sample contained 24 control subjects, 21 major depressed patients, and 22 high-risk suicidal patients. Acoustic analyses of voice fundamental frequency (Fo), amplitude modulation (AM), formants, and power distribution were performed on speech samples extracted from audio recordings collected from the sample members. Multivariate feature and discriminant analyses were performed on feature vectors representing the members of the control and disordered classes. Features derived from the formant and power spectral density measurements were found to be the best discriminators of class membership in both the male and female studies. AM features emerged as strong class discriminators of the male classes. Features describing Fo were generally ineffective discriminators in both studies. The results support theories that identify psychomotor disturbances as central elements in depression and suicidality.
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