Could a Blood Marker Predict Suicidal Tendencies?

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dna21Deciding on those in most need for immediate help, when it comes to suicidal ideations, has been a difficult task for physicians. Knowing who needs the most assistance has always been dependent upon self-reported systems and concerned family members. All too often, patients are less than forthcoming about their emotional and mental states. But now, thanks to a study that discovered elevated levels of a certain substance in the blood of suicidal patients, a simple diagnostic test for immediate danger of suicide may be on the horizon.

The result of a much larger study on men with bipolar disorder, the findings come as a surprise to grateful – if highly cautious – researchers.

As part of the clinical study, bipolar patients would visit a clinic every three months to be psychologically tested and give a blood sample. During the course of the study, a portion of the men began exhibiting suicidal tendencies. Notably, a molecule created by the gene known as SAT1 changed, alongside the shift in suicidal thoughts and attempts. For all nine of the men that developed suicidal ideations, there was a marked increase in SAT1 activity that corresponded with the thoughts. Further study also showed higher SAT1 levels than normal in patients hospitalized for suicidal behavior. Normally, SAT1 is involved in cell death.

What’s more, very high levels of the SAT1 gene have been found in the blood of nine different people who had committed suicide, according to lab reports by various coroners. And, while the results are still very preliminary, the outlook looks good for a future blood test to alert doctors to suicidal risk.

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