The fact that suicide can run in families, as well as more direct studies of heritability involving twins or adopted individuals, has suggested a genetic component to suicidal behavior, but what genes are involved has remained unclear. Now, researchers have identified a gene variant that is more common in those who have attempted suicide than in those who have not. The findings provide a potential DNA marker for suicide risk that could help doctors recognize which patients need supervision.

“If we knew who had an enhanced risk of suicide, we could change our approach to their care,” said John Mann, chief neuroscientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, told The Guardian. “We could warn the family and ask them to be extra vigilant, we could send reminders to people to repeat their prescription, and tell the patient the importance of sticking with their treatment.”


"It will be a panel of genes that will contribute to this, and if we can identify those genes, that panel could be used as a screening tool to predict the risk of suicidal behaviour in depressed patients," Mann told The Guardian.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!