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Genetic tests on depressed people who tried to take their own lives have revealed a DNA marker that could help doctors spot patients who are at risk of suicide.
The gene variant was more common in depressed people who had attempted suicide than in those who had not, suggesting that it marks out a group of people who are especially vulnerable if they become depressed.
The gene is among several that might ultimately be used to screen people with serious depression to identify those that need the closest supervision while being treated.
“If we knew who had an enhanced risk of suicide, we could change our approach to their care,” said John Mann, chief neuroscientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
“We could warn the family and ask them to be extra vigilant, we could send reminders to people to repeat their prescription, and tell the patient the importance of sticking with their treatment,” he said.
Previous studies of twins and people who were adopted show that around half a person’s risk of suicide is due to genetic factors. The heritability of suicidal tendencies can explain tragic clusters of deaths in families, such as those that blighted Ernest Hemingway’s and Kurt Cobain’s families.
Read full, original post: Gene that raises suicide risk identified