A Blood Test to Detect Genetic Risk of Suicide


For those whose job it is to deal with suicide, the sight of blood is never good news. But recent findings by researchers at a leading U.S. medical university may lead to a simple blood test that could predict with a high degree of certainty whether someone is at risk of committing suicide. Currently suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 10–19, and the rate of suicide among U.S. veterans is more than twice that of the civilian population. The breakthrough involves sophisticated DNA analysis that identifies a genetic marker that can help indicate which people are more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and thus at risk of attempting suicide.

Researchers discovered, by analyzing brain samples from both healthy and mentally ill people, that a gene known as SKA2 is found at significantly lower levels in the brains of people who had committed suicide. This gene is associated with the brain’s ability to quiet negative thoughts and control impulsive behavior. When a person experiences stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. Hormone receptors in the brain then kick in to suppress the level of cortisol, thus allowing stress to subside. If a person’s brain has too little SKA2, or if the gene is altered in some way, the stress hormone receptor is unable to do its job. In such cases, researchers believe, a person’s negative thoughts go unchecked as the hormone persists at abnormal levels.

The next step is to study this genetic marker in larger population samples. If the recent findings about SKA2 are confirmed, a blood test could be developed for use in treating people with severe depression. Suicide is preventable, but prevention efforts have been hampered by the inability to predict which individuals are most at risk. Such a blood test could help identify those in need of intervention.

Image credit: © Rafe Swan/Cultura/Getty Images

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  1. Pamela says:

    that is so cool

  2. Ashley says:

    As a person that sometimes has to deal with depression, I would like to say that indeed we have a huge stress going down on us, that sometimes we can’t stand. Now this stands for both the people born with any kind of depression. But also the ones that fall into it, due to a accident, torment, etc…. But with both of these on mind, there are ways that people hide these from others, causing the stress to over take and lead to this suicide/suicidal thoughts.

  3. CHewARLEzzzZZZZ says:


  4. Stevely says:

    I am only 12 and do not want to kill myself

  5. Stevely says:


  6. stevely says:

    i think sucide is bad and u should get help

  7. Not giving out name says:

    the article needs to give out more info the studies on suicides are tremendously found on the internet.

  8. Alex Sharp says:

    suicide is a very bad feeling of emotion, and people who feel it probably have or had a big problem in there life, sad 🙁