health

U.S. scientists take step toward blood test for suicide

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© 2014 AFP

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I wonder if it's the gene that causes suicidal thoughts/behavior, or if the circumstances, stress, pain etc. that cause one to become suicidal alter the expression of the gene (epigenetics)?

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My name is Tom Cruise from the Pre-crime division and I'm here to arrest you for the fact that you might commit in the near future.

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As usual sloppy reporting. The ska2 gene undergoes mutation in response I stress levels that exceed an individual's stress capacity. It predicts future suicide attempts, any regular blood testing of at risk individuals could help assess the risk of suicidal behavior, but this is not a test that can identify stress capacity before major life stress, nor could it detect suicidal risk in, for example, infants.

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As someone who was, until recently, suicidal, I can safely say that, in many cases at least, it's not our genes that lead to suicidal behaviour. For me it was stress, a traumatic childhood, and 13 and a half years of abuse that somehow went unnoticed. If it wasn't for the fact of my abuser dying in a train accident, I wouldn't be alive today. Even so, the damage he has done is most likely irreparable. Six years on, and I still don't believe that he's really dead. I know of many more people with similar experiences, or who have ended up with a similar depression and suicidal tendency due to stress. The findings of this research are questionable at best.

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@Fox Sora Winters, I am very sorry for what happened to you. It sounds like you are a strong person and are pulling through. Regarding the article, elevated cortisol is mentioned, which I believe is also elevated when there is lack of sleep and stress. I find in my particular situation that lack of sleep makes me much more depressed than any other trigger. In fact, that is why I sometimes don't enjoy holidays abroad with jet lag, hotel bad bed, heavy foods, etc. that affect sleep.

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People obviously handle stress differently but this research is interesting in that it means there may well be those who become convinced that there is no other option as a result of their genetic makeup. Hopefully, if found to be the case, it would also stop those who say suicide is cowardly and selfish etc. Some may actually have no choice but to kill themselves (well, their brains would convince them of that at least).

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@ronaldk Yes, I've noticed that sleep deprivation has a depressant effect on some people. Not myself it seems, I seem to do better without sleep, but we're all different, so that's to be expected. But yes, stress is a major factor in most cases.

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