New Research Shows Suicidal Behaviour Could Be Genetic

Suicidal behaviour, when someone tries to end his or her own life, impacts thousands of Canadians every year. Often connected to mental health issues like depression, people of any age may feel that it’s their only option. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Even the experts find suicidal behaviour hard to predict; when diagnosing and treating mental health issues, predicting suicidal behaviour is complex.

Toronto-based researchers find genetic link to suicidal behaviour

A recent study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto takes a step towards making the screening process more accurate. Researchers found that for people who have a psychiatric illness, a variation of one particular gene can indicate a significantly higher risk for suicidal behaviour.

In a news release, CAMH said “About 90 per cent of people who have died by suicide have at least one mental health disorder, the researchers note… In each case, the researchers compared the genotypes of people who had attempted or completed suicide with those who were non-suicidal.”

What happens next?

While it’s too early for this research to directly impact how psychiatrists screen for suicidal behaviour,  Jeffrey Waplak– Clinical Director for Stevenson, Waplak & Associates, and Applewood Academy – said it is a move forward. “The tools we have now aren’t great,” he admitted. “This gives us another avenue to try. A genetic marker would provide an extra piece we could use, something that would be very helpful.”

Waplak says the next step is for other researchers to try to duplicate these results and progress from there. “It’s great that research continues in this area. The question is: How could this information be used in a practical sense? That’s what we still need to find out.”

To learn more about suicidal behaviour contact us or visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website. If you need help urgently, please call your local emergency service provider (eg 9-1-1).