Blood marker may predict suicide

People who killed themselves had higher levels of specific gene

3:50pm, August 20, 2013

A substance that has been found at elevated levels in the blood of people likely to kill themselves could lead to a simple diagnostic test for suicide risk, researchers report August 20 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Right now, clinicians rely on people’s self-reported symptoms and feelings to decide who is in need of immediate help, but a person intent on suicide isn’t always forthcoming. An unambiguous blood test would show clinicians who is in immediate danger.

“There is such a need for markers,” says study coauthor Alexander Niculescu of Indiana University School of Medicine. “We need to advance this research very fast.”

Outside researchers are quick to say that the study should be interpreted cautiously. Nonetheless, the findings are “amazingly strong for a small sample size,” says psychiatrist J. John Mann of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

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