Suicide is a leading health problem worldwide. According to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to note that women are three times more susceptible than males to commit suicide.
A study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry in April 2016 has come up with a series of blood tests and a set of questionnaires that could help caregivers anticipate if their patients are contemplating suicide in the near term. The study, titled “Towards understanding and predicting suicidality in women: biomarkers and clinical risk assessment,” says that though men are 3.5 times more likely to succeed in their suicidal attempt than women, a higher rate of suicide attempts is seen in women than in men.
Lead author Alexander B. Niculescu III, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and his team analyzed through mood questionnaires and genetic tests given to 51 women patients who had a diagnosable psychiatric condition, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The researchers identified 12 women whose minds were found to vacillate from no suicidal thoughts to high levels of suicidal tendencies. The 12 patients displayed different patterns of gene activation when they were at different levels of suicide risk.
Certain biomarkers to predict suicide unique to women
In the subsequent experiment, the researchers analyzed the blood report of the six women who had committed suicide and found a number of biomarkers that resembled the biomarkers that had already been identified in men with higher risks for suicide. But, some of these biomarkers were unique to women.
In the concluding experiment, the researchers focused on the applicability of the biomarkers and two questionnaire apps in recognizing the level of distress in women with mental disorders. Instead of interrogating about a patient’s suicidal thoughts or behavior by posing direct questions, the apps kept a track on the patients’ overall mood, depression, social isolation and physical health. These apps and biomarkers enabled the researchers to clearly anticipate (with 82 percent accuracy) as to which patients were vulnerable to nurture suicidal thoughts in the future.
Niculescu said, “Although some of the biomarkers corresponded to those identified in the studies of male patients, others differed, such as those involved in mechanisms related to the body’s responses to the psychiatric drug lithium, and genes involved with circadian rhythms. Such findings raise intriguing questions about potential diagnostic and treatment approaches.”
Who is at risk?
It is known that depressed people are at a particular risk for suicide. Experts believe that those who attempt suicide are different from others in many ways, ranging from how they think, react or make decisions. The following causes can lead a person to take the drastic step to end his or her life:
- Depression, other mental disorders, or drug or alcohol abuse
- A prior suicide attempt or an unresolved problem from the past
- Family history of suicide or a terminal illness
- Family violence or being socially isolated
- Having guns or other firearms in the home or being exposed to suicidal behavior
- Incarceration or low levels of satisfaction in life
It is important to stay close to the person who is contemplating a suicide and reassure him or her that all will be well. The International Day of Action for Women’s Health, observed on May 28 each year, calls for action for the improvisation of woman’s reproductive and mental health and her right to get vital treatments.
Making help available
Mental disorders are prevalent in all societies, so it becomes essential to determine whether treating these disorders would translate into reduction in suicidal rates. Many people suffer from both physical and mental health problems that can lead them to end their life. Depression is a lifelong condition, wherein therapists should aim to reduce frequent episodes of the mental condition. In doing so, healthcare professionals need to conduct a more thorough review of a patient’s psychiatric history with depression and anxiety and explore other potential risk factors.
If you or your loved one is dealing with a mental health issue that needs medical intervention, it’s better to visit one of the reputed mental health facilities in California. Call the California Mental Health Helpline today at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 to know about mental health treatment in California.