I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that many mental disorders have a genetic link. There are many people who suffer from mental illnesses. In fact, at least a quarter of our population in the US has some type of mental health condition. Mental illness puts a person at a higher risk of suicidal ideation, and it’s been reported that a large percentage of those suffering from suicidal ideation also have some type of mental disorder. However, it has also come to the attention of researchers that most of those who have mental health disorders do not have suicidal ideation or attempt suicide.
Confusing? In other words, many people suffer from mental health disorders, but most of these people don’t suffer from suicidal ideation. On the flip side, many of the people who attempt or complete suicide do have a mental health disorder.
Suicide is extremely complex, and there are many factors involved. Suicidal thoughts have many causes. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can’t cope when you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. If you don’t have hope for the future, you may mistakenly think suicide is a solution. You may experience a sort of tunnel vision, where in the middle of a crisis you believe suicide is the only way out. Some refer to this as a suicidal trance.
Scientists are also theorizing that there is a genetic link to suicide. Suicidal ideation is now being studied as a disorder in and of itself. People who complete suicide or who have suicidal thoughts or behavior are more likely to have a family history of suicide. However, it’s important to understand that a family history is only one possible contributor; not a projection. Environmental causes, societal challenges, brain inflammation, genetics, and possible biomarkers are all being studied, and thought to play a part.
Discoveries have now shown that neuroinflammation is a potential link, and that certain biomarkers can predict the onset of suicidal behaviors. The research for biomarkers is still in the early stages, but it’s there.
Biomarkers would suggest a biological indicator (predisposition) for suicide. If there are biomarkers for suicide, this would suggest that there may be a treatment in the future to help those suffering from suicidal ideation and suicide. Again, much more funding is necessary to continue with this research.