Technology in healthcare has advanced to such an extent that now even a blood test can determine an individual’s higher risk of committing suicide. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered a new gene linked to suicide risk and said that the finding could lead to a blood test that predicts a person’s risk of attempting suicide.
Researchers scanned the genes of brain tissue samples from people who had died by suicide, and compared these genes with those of people who died of other causes. A genetic mutation, in a gene called SKA2 and a chemical change called epigenetic change was found to be more common among the people who died by suicide than in those who died from other causes.
Blood samples from 325 people were used to create a model that took into account whether a person had the SKA2 genetic mutation and the epigenetic change, as well as the person’s age, sex, and stress and anxiety levels. The model was tested on 22 people aged 15 to 24, and about 50 pregnant women, who all gave blood samples. It correctly identified 80 percent to 96 percent of people who experienced suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide. It was more accurate among people at severe risk for suicide.
The lead author of the study said, “With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people, and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe”. The researchers also said the results are preliminary and more research is needed to confirm the findings.
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