Study Identifies Genetic Risks of Suicide Death in Individuals with Bipolar Disorder


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A new study shows that people with bipolar disorder who are exposed to significant trauma may have an increased risk of suicide death, suggesting that clinical diagnosis or genetic predisposition to trauma-related conditions could be important factors to consider in suicide prevention.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 40,000 deaths each year and mortality rates are 10 to 30 times higher for people with bipolar disorder than for the general population.

The research, led by Eric Monson, MD, Ph.D., and Hilary Coon, Ph.D., of the University of Utah, in collaboration with Virginia Willour, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa , it was proposed to identify unique risk factors for suicide attempt and death in bipolar disorder.

“There are many factors that carry a higher risk of suicide: genetics is one of them,” says Willour, a professor of psychiatry at UI Carver College of Medicine. “We want to understand what the risk factors are so we can move forward with better interventions and lower suicide rates.”

The team’s findings were recently published in , entitled “Assessing Suicide Attempt and Death in Bipolar Affective Disorder: A Combined Clinical and Genetic Approach,” in the journal Translational psychiatry.

Monson, Willour’s first study author and former graduate student, says this research is a first significant assessment of specific risk factors not only for suicide attempt, but also for suicide death.

“While it does not provide a definitive answer, this work provides information that supports the idea that the risk factors for suicide attempt and suicide death may differ from each other,” Monson says. “And the ongoing research will be really critical to making sure we make the best use of valuable resources to prevent suicide.”

The main results of the study show that the diagnosis of trauma is associated , such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are much more common in individuals with bipolar disorder who died by suicide than in other groups, including .

Researchers ’analysis also demonstrates one to the development of PTSD in people with bipolar disorder who died by suicide.

In addition, the findings suggest that genetic risk factors for PTSD derived from men were found more frequently in individuals with bipolar disorder who died by suicide, but genetic risk factors derived from women were associated with both death as with suicide attempt.

Understanding how genetic variation contributes to suicide risk can help identify different strategies or potential medications for achieving relief in patients at higher risk of suicide.

“This isn’t a job for us, it’s not even a career,” says Willour, lead author of the study and a member of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. “This is a mission, to reduce suicide rates and do it in a way that brings relief to the patient as soon as possible.”

Funded primarily by a grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the study is the largest combined clinical and genetic effort to investigate suicide risk factors in suicide. and uses the largest sample of individuals who have died by suicide in the world.

“There has been decades of work in preparing this data,” Monson says. “We would not have access to data of this level, of these figures, if it were not for the collaborative effort. There have been hundreds of researchers and thousands of individuals who have given their time, their samples of DNA, all these different things to make it possible. “

It is crucial to identify this potential because Suicide is intrinsically preventable and any tool to better predict those most at risk can help harness very limited mental health resources to reach those who need it most.

“Suicide can be prevented; that’s not said enough,” Monson says. “That’s why screening is so important and that’s why all these research steps we do are really important. When you have something that’s the worst possible outcome for a disease, but it can be completely prevented, we have to do something about it “.

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More information:
Eric T. Monson et al, Evaluation of suicide attempt and death in bipolar affective disorder: a combined clinical and genetic approach, Translational psychiatry (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41398-021-01500-w

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University of Iowa

Citation: Study Identifies Genetic Risks of Suicide Death in Individuals with Bipolar Disorder (2021, July 8) Retrieved July 9, 2021 at -death-individuals-bipolar.html

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