What is the role of genetics in the development of suicidal behaviors?

Updated: Sep 25, 2018
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Answer

Some authorities believe that genetic factors alone may be involved in suicide, that suicide runs in families, and that having a relative who commits suicide is indeed a risk factor. Therefore, a family history of suicide is very significant. Careful assessments of family history of mental illness and suicide should be a routine aspect of patient evaluation.

Studies continue to show the gene connection in suicidal behavior. Genes related to serotonin have been implicated in histories of second suicide attempts. [40] In a study of postmortem brains and living cohorts, Guintivano et al found evidence of a genetic and epigenetic link between suicide and a single-nucleotide polymorphism in SKA2, a gene involved in cortisol suppression and stress regulation. [41, 42] Many of the discussed mental illnesses (eg, bipolar disorder) are not only risk factors for suicide but also have strong genetic components.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!