A New Way To Measure Suicide Risk?

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Newmarket Journal has reported on a study  lead by  Dr Alexander Niculescu, from Indiana University and published in Molecular Psychiatry. Niculescu and colleagues found a correlation between one specific molecular marker and an elevated risk of suicide. One particular molecule, an enzyme called SAT1, was linked to suicidal tendencies in a group of patients with bipolar disorder

Suicide risk is notoriously difficult to measure accurately. Many of the factors used by mental health professionals are by their very nature subjective. Not only that, some individuals hide their suicidal intentions from clinicians.  So the prospect of having a single easily administered blood-test that will give a definitive risk profile sounds wonderful.  But there’s a problem: Niculescu’s study used a small sample size and all of the participants were male.  So it’s too early to look towards developing a ‘suicide biomarker’ test.

Professor Keith Hawton, director of the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University, made the point well in the Newmarket Journal when he said: “There is a big difference between finding differences between groups (as in this study) compared with risk in actual individuals, the latter being the real test of predictors. I would say that the findings are of interest and may point the way to some future research based on large samples, but no more than that.”

You can read the article here

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