In a groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on October 1, researchers have identified 12 gene variants that may be linked to an increased risk of suicide attempts. Led by Anna Docherty, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) at the University of Utah, the research sheds light on the intricate connection between genetics, mental health, and various physical ailments.
Contrary to expectations, the study revealed that it isn't a single gene but the cumulative impact of different genes that contributes to the risk of suicide attempts. Drawing data from 22 diverse populations, including people of various ethnic backgrounds, the research team conducted a meta-analysis involving the Million Veteran Program and the International Suicide Genetics Consortium. This comprehensive approach included data from nearly 44,000 documented suicide attempts and over 915,000 ancestry-matched individuals serving as a control group.
The findings uncovered a complex web of genetic variants associated with suicide attempts. The team then compared this data with genetic information on more than 1,000 other health issues. Remarkably, the study demonstrated significant overlap not only with mental health conditions but also with various physical health problems such as chronic pain, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lung conditions, heart disease, smoking, and lung-related illnesses.
This study showing that causes of suicide can be studied through genes that we are born with is very good and helpful information that can help treat people who are suicidal. Many times people who are suicidal are not able to express how they feel and it makes it much harder for people trying to help. With this study it can make it easier to see what genes are effecting people into having them be suicidal.