| depression

DNA and Suicide Attempts

Overlapping: Genetics of Pain

Worldwide, every year there are ~800,000 deaths by suicide, with nonfatal attempts occurring over 20 times for every death. What is the underlying biology of suicide attempts? In the largest study of potential genetic components of suicide, a region of the genome on chromosome 7 containing DNA variations has been identified that seems to increase the risk of suicide attempts. Over 7.5 million common DNA sequence variations were scanned from nearly 550,000 people, 30,000 of whom had attempted suicide.

Lead author of the study, Niamh Mullins, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, commented, “In addition to identifying the risk location for suicide attempt on chromosome 7, we uncovered a strong overlap in the genetic basis of suicide attempt and that of psychiatric disorders, particularly major depression, as well as some overlap with the genetics of smoking, pain, risk-taking, sleep disturbances, and poorer general health. This genetic overlap with non-psychiatric risk factors was largely unchanged by adjusting for psychiatric disorders, which suggests that a substantial component of the biological basis of suicide attempt is not simply a byproduct of comorbid psychiatric disease, but instead may be the result of shared biology with non-psychiatric risk factors.”


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