There’s a new study out on the journal Molecular Psychiatry that studied thousands of people with bipolar disorder, and found that genetic factors may influence the decision to attempt suicide. Scientists from Johns Hopkins have identified that a small region on chromosome 2 is associated with increased risk for attempted suicide. Interestingly, the protein associated with this region is also thought to influence the same biological pathway as that of lithium (Read the whole story on Medical News Today).
This is definitely good news for suicide research since this could lead to different and better suicide prevention efforts or take drug development on a new path. But on a personal level, having come from a family tree that does include a suicide attempt makes me wonder if I am still vulnerable to keep making more suicide attempts. I’ve already tried a few times and have certainly done enough thinking about it. Is it ever going to end, or am I genetically bound to the path of completing a suicide one of these days? I realize the scientists are talking only about factors that influence the decision and not a definitive correlation, but I do worry if what I do for treatment, e.g. ECT, therapy, medication, is never really enough to change some series of action that may already be ingrained in my genes. Also, we’ve been told that there’s a genetic link in passing down mental health issues like depression. Because I’ve dealt with depression and also suicidal thoughts, does this mean that, should I choose to have children, I would be making my offspring susceptible not just mental illness, but also to suicidality? I’m not sure I could watch another person(s) suffer through that pain, and also know that I knowingly passed down that particular molecular combination to his/her blood.
Overall, this finding is a really good one, but it’s one that will keep me thinking when my next suicidal thought is coming. This worry never ceases to stop.
Side note: in searching stuff for this post, I found a PDF document from the Risk Management Foundation at Harvard of Guidelines for Identification, Assessment, and Treatment Planning for Suicidality.