Monday, October 23, 2023

Genetic Study On Suicide Sheds Light On At Risk Populations

Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have shown that there are 12 gene variants across diverse ethnic backgrounds that may be linked to an increased risk of attempting suicide. These genes were linked to other detrimental health conditions such as lung and heart disease, chronic pain, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among many others. A cumulative effect of both mental and physical conditions was found to increase the odds of someone attempting suicide; however, because someone has any number of these conditions does not mean that they would attempt suicide, just that they are considered more at risk. These genes were also found to have other functions such as repairing damaged DNA, managing cellular stress, and communicating with the immune system, which makes sense as these processes are targets of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs and are highly expressed in the brain in general. The study also found that those that have family members that have attempted suicide are at a higher risk as well. Overall, this study provides insight on what genes could be analyzed to assess risk of suicide attempt could open new avenues for treating those at risk.

While there is little doubt that those with mental disorders would be at a higher risk of attempting suicide, one must consider if the genes are all there is to blame. With tragic global news more widely available than ever, and non-genetic stimuli than ever contributing to increases in ADHD diagnoses, one must consider the affect of environmental factors, including others not mentioned. While genetic sequencing could provide additional insight to who may be at risk, it would be irresponsible to medicate someone who may exhibit genetic risk factors if they are perfectly healthy otherwise. I believe genetic sequencing could be used to determine risk, but mental evaluations should be periodically conducted to ensure that otherwise healthy people are not being excessively medicated.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with using the genetic factors for a risk-based approach, rather than immediately resorting to medication use. I think that would be a good way to balance this discovery and what it means for the medical field in particular.