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Biotech Medicine

Predictors of Suicidal Behavior Found In Blood 209

Posted by timothy
from the advances-in-pre-crime dept.
ananyo writes "Researchers may have found a way to potentially predict suicidal behaviour by analyzing someone's blood. Using blood samples taken by the coroner from nine men who had committed suicide, they found six molecular signs, or biomarkers, that they say can identify people at risk of committing suicide. To check whether these biomarkers could predict hospitalizations related to suicide or suicide attempts, the researchers analysed gene-expression data from 42 men with bipolar disorder and 46 men with schizophrenia. When the biomarkers were combined with clinical measures of mood and mental state, the accuracy with which researchers could predict hospitalizations was more than 80% (abstract)."
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Predictors of Suicidal Behavior Found In Blood

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:14AM (#44617927)

    I don't want to live in a world that will prevent me from committing suicide.

    • I disagree (Score:4, Informative)

      by schneidafunk (795759) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:35AM (#44618241)
      I have a family member whom has mental health issues and she was suicidal for a good year in her early 20s, until she got on the right medication. Now she lives a productive life and is happy. Some mental issues can be solved with medication!
      • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:44AM (#44618357)
        It's a shame the proper use of who vs whom can't.
        • Coffee. Splat. Monitor.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ebno-10db (1459097)

          Who vs. whom, what are you, British? While you're at it, why not complain using "you" instead of having the separate subject and object forms, thou and thee. Sorry, but subject/object forms in English have been dying for around 1000 years. It ain't German anymore. It's become an analytic rather than a synthetic language.

          P.S. Couldn't help myself. Nothing more fun than outdoing the pedantry of someone else.

          P.P.S. Next time let's discuss the singular "they", and how it was absurd to try and impose Latin rules

          • by Prune (557140)

            Can someone explain to me why "try and" seems to have become so popular? It makes no logical sense as a replacement for "try to", and appears to be favored over the latter for purely euphonic reasons.

            • Idioms don't have to make sense when taken literally.

              • Idioms don't have to make sense when taken literally.

                Actually, try this. And see what you think:

                There's "try and". Which, as you can see, is a perfectly sensible construct.

                And there's "try to". Which is also sensible, but has an obviously different meaning.

                And finally, there's the idiomatic "try and". Which doesn't make literal sense, because it's actually just being sloppy with the above. But that's idioms for you.

            • by cellocgw (617879)

              Can someone explain to me why "try and" seems to have become so popular? It makes no logical sense as a replacement for "try to", and appears to be favored over the latter for purely euphonic reasons.

              OTOH, if your logic tree isn't getting the results you expected, delete an OR and....

              try AND

              . //rimshot

            • by khallow (566160)

              Can someone explain to me why "try and" seems to have become so popular? It makes no logical sense as a replacement for "try to", and appears to be favored over the latter for purely euphonic reasons.

              Euphonic reasons sound good enough.

        • Easy: Never use whom.

        • Well, perhaps electroshock therapy isn't totally obsolete...
          • by niado (1650369)

            Well, perhaps electroshock therapy isn't totally obsolete...

            As funny as that is, I have a family member who was treated with EST [wikipedia.org] last year (2012). I was flabbergasted at the time, but evidently it is still used in some cases. The same family member was also treated with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation [wikipedia.org] this year (2013). This was also surprising to me, as I was under the assumption that magnetic therapies were homeopathic.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              The Magnetic Therapies used as actual treatments are extremely powerful, and specifically target devices.
              However, the data is still weak, and Neuropsychopharmacology did a great break down on the FDA post hoc reasoning.

              The shit you where on your wrist or in your shoe have no effect.

      • I was on antidepressants when I was depressed as a teenager and they helped. I think antidepressants shouldn't have the negative connotation that they do have. Big pharma pushing them for everything is despicable, but they have their uses. I'm glad I didn't commit suicide, I think the vast majority of people who do commit suicide have no good reason to, and should be stopped.

        That said, I agree with GP. The government should have no say in whether or not I can end my life, be it euthanasia or depressi
        • I agree it shouldn't be illegal in certain situations, such as incurable painful diseases. However, in some cases the person is not in a logical mind-frame and should be forcibly hospitalized instead of giving them a gun.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          Suicide isn't illegal. Attempted suicide is.

          You can't arrest a dead person

          The government absolutely should. I used to believe like you, but then I started reading up on suicide. Turns out, most of them are decided on out of the blue.
          I would argue you were mentally unstable.

          Of course, it gets sticier beyond that. DO you have the right to leave young children behind? but a large burden on other people? litter the streets?

          • more evidence: suicide survivor Ken Baldwin - 'I instantly realized that everything in my life that Id thought was unfixable was totally fixable.....except for having just jumped.'
            • more evidence: suicide survivor Ken Baldwin - 'I instantly realized that everything in my life that I'd thought was unfixable was totally fixable.....except for having just jumped.'

              Achieving perspective as to what is really (un)important in life helps (tip: most things are relatively very unimportant). Unfortunately, it often only comes at these point-of-no-return moments, like the moment my wife died in my arms at exactly 3 PM, Friday, January 13, 2006. Make the most of what you learn. If possible, sit down, think ahead and figure it out before it's too late. Just my $.02.

    • The Fifth Trumpet
      â¦5And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. 6And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.
      Revelation 9

      (I'm not particularly Christian, but find this interesting in the light of current questions of medical ethics)

    • I tried to borrow a book on suicide from my local library, but they wouldn't lend it out as all the other copies never got returned.
  • And how accurate were the "clinical measures of mood and mental state" by themselves?

    • That's sort of the key. It's hard to say. If you successfully intervene, then the person doesn't commit suicide. If you don't they might. Most of the time, you can rank sucidality. Not all of the time, just like most things.

      I don't think that this is going to lead to a 'suicide test' - it's rather early in the game for that. It will likely lead to more grant money in the short term and perhaps a better understanding of mood disorders in the long term. It's interesting that they focused on bipolar pa

      • It will certainly help lots of people but of course opens up some interesting containers of slimy invertebrates (ie, politicians).

        They can always be euthanized.

  • So if a Vampire were to suck their blood, would it too want to commit suicide? Or are we vampires safe?
  • We tend to find find these predictors however they mean a statically increase of something not necessary that action will occur.
    There are people with all sorts of mental issues that are living productive and legal lives, because while their instincts may be to do something anti-social, we were taught to not do such, and we are well trained not to do that.

    Suicide may have predictors for it, but it doesn't mean that the person will be Suicidal, even during tough times, however there will be an instinct, that

    • Yep, its like genetics and intelligence, while no doubt they are correlated, someone who has the best genes in the world but does nothing but sleep, eat Cheetos and watch MTV is going to be less smart than the guy with terrible genetics who wants to better himself.

      Unfortunately, the more we find out about this type of stuff the less personal responsibility people seem to have.
      • Yep, its like genetics and intelligence, while no doubt they are correlated, someone who has the best genes in the world but does nothing but sleep, eat Cheetos and watch MTV is going to be less smart ...

        Or maybe he's very smart, and just doesn't give a damn what you think.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        NO, he would still be more smart. Just not as knowledgeable and probably lack critical thinking skills.

        That said, spending you life enjoying something isn't dumb.

        "..less personal responsibility people seem to have."
        over 90% of things you 'think about' or 'decide on' where determine in your brain before you started thinking about it.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:36AM (#44618259)

    The list of eugenics propaganda is getting longer, and I'll have to study this to determine if it needs to go there. On a hunch, I'm guessing that it will. I'm not a MD, but wonder if this is even possible due to toxins the body produces right after death as well as another more obvious reason. Suicide is generally a result of depression as well as other symptoms. The obvious reason for this to fail is that currently there is no way (nor should there be) to test someones blood to determine if they are suffering from depression. They could of course determine levels of substances, but humans are adaptive and can live with a huge tolerance or lack of certain hormones, amino acids, etc...

    Now maybe it's just me, but the summary seems extremely familiar to "Detecting mental illness by analyzing your tweets", and "Detecting mental illness by analyzing your social media habits" which we have seen within the last year and a half. This one is a bit better disguised, but not disguised enough.

    • First, gene marker studies are unlikely to be tainted by 'toxins'. You have the gene or you don't. Dying doesn't give you more DNA. And yes, the Holy Grail is to use objective testing to tease out the determinant basis of a bunch of subjective issues (psychiatric diseases).

      This is quite a bit different from detecting mental illness by analyzing your tweets (a tautology). It's more an attempt to find a molecular basis of why some people are twits and others not.

      Best adjust your undies. Your biases are s

      • by s.petry (762400)

        The attempt to find molecular basis I have disputed for two reasons. I'm sure an MD can do a better job of it, and I will be discussing this issue with friends and become more familiar with it.

        Psychiatric diseases and diagnosis have become nearly laughable. The bible used to determine a diagnosis has been the subject of controversy since it was first published, and has grown more controversial in the last 2 revisions. If you are not questioning an industry where children are diagnosed as mentally ill and

        • by jkflying (2190798)

          If we could find a molecular basis for them we wouldn't have to rely on diagnosis criteria like "shows signs of anger when confronted" which can be horribly misinterpreted.

          The answer to poor science is not less science, the answer is more, better science so we can fix the problem. Science is self-correcting like that.

          • by s.petry (762400)

            If we could find a molecular basis for them we wouldn't have to rely on diagnosis criteria like "shows signs of anger when confronted" which can be horribly misinterpreted.

            Not only can it be misinterpreted, but it is an absolutely normal reaction! Should you be "diagnosed" and forced to take medication for not changing your opinion when someone yells at you? Come now, it's not just a matter of more or less science. It's what the science is attempting to do, and whether or not there is any benefit to society if the "science" runs its full course. Unfortunately Science is not always self-correcting in time to prevent massive harm to society and civilizations.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              " Should you be "diagnosed" and forced to take medication for not changing your opinion when someone yells at you? "
              no one said anything about yelling, they said confronted.

              Thinking, learn it.

              • by s.petry (762400)
                My example of yelling is a type of confrontation. You trying to nitpick does not change my point or argue my point. Fallacy, learn to avoid it and actually debate.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          YOu are the fool because you clearly don''t understand why the book is controversial.
          It's a GUIDELINE, that is all. The primary controversy is the insurance companies have broken these guideline into hard line that become difficult to bill for.

          Don't be that idiot who stands that saying 'X doesn't work' becasue of some other controversy within the field.

          " If you are not questioning an industry where children are diagnosed as mentally ill and put on medication because they want to play"
          No one does that.

          " That

    • The obvious reason for this to fail is that currently there is no way (nor should there be) to test someones blood to determine if they are suffering from depression.

      It's been known for quite some time that both depression and predisposition to suicides have a genetic component. So yes, you most certainly should be able to test someone's blood to determine if they are at an increased risk for depression, it's just a question of identifying which genes are responsible.

      The list of eugenics propaganda is getting longer, and I'll have to study this to determine if it needs to go there

      Recognizing that our genes have an effect on us isn't "eugenics." It's common-sense. DNA controls the color of my eyes, my skin, the type of hair I have, my height, my body type, the relative chances I h

    • by Prune (557140)
      Why does it have to be propaganda? While eugenics is tainted by its association with unfortunate historical happenstance, it doesn't have to be. Many scientists are more or less in favor of genetics, with James Watson (co-discoverer of DNA's structure) a prime example. What is the alternative? When you remove natural selection pressure (and we have very strongly diluted it, and continue to do so ever more), there is very little selection left; thus, the average genetic fitness of the population will worsen
      • by s.petry (762400)

        While eugenics is tainted by its association with unfortunate historical happenstance, it doesn't have to be.

        That is a terribly naive statement. You ignoring human nature won't take away human nature. The same things we see today were happening in our first records of political history. Read Plato's "The Republic" and "The Dialogues of Plato" for starters.

        As you stated, correlation != causation. Humans cope with numerous things very well. Even if you could detect a "suicide" gene, it does not mean that someone will attempt suicide. So what is the benefit of detection? Stop and think about that one for a bit

    • "The obvious reason for this to fail is that currently there is no way (nor should there be) to test someones blood to determine if they are suffering from depression."

      More then likely a lot of long term depression is probably a break down in the body's resiliency from being exposed to long term stress over time. i.e. being bullied in school, anxiety, constant work, etc.

      All these things add up over time and most likely do some damage to regulatory mechanisms that most people are oblivious to but some peopl

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:42AM (#44618331)

    We need a blood sample to test for suicidal tendencies. Could you make a small cut in your wrist please?

  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:43AM (#44618351)

    Maybe this is perhaps a sign of severe depression rather than simply suicide. I read the article and depression wasn't mentioned until the end and only briefly. Happy people don't kill themselves.

    • Happy people don't kill themselves.

      I disagree. While undoubtedly the vast majority of suicides are due to severe depression and unhappy people, there are a number of other reasons why people commit suicide. For some, they want to go out with dignity. Others have a debilitating illness and want to be in their right mind when they die rather than die unable to even recognize their own children.

      Now that doesn't mean that suicide is the answer or that I condone suicide or anything, merely that there are some people who commit suicide witho

    • by geekoid (135745)

      " Happy people don't kill themselves."
      wrong.
      You should research the topic.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:47AM (#44618397)

    As the researcher admits:

    The next step, he says, is to look at the levels of these biomarkers in the general population and in other at-risk populations, such as those with depression or suffering from stress or bereavement. “Suicide is not just related to mental illness,” he says. “It’s a very complex behaviour (sic*).”

    That might just be an understatement, there. Generalizing results to the population as a whole, as opposed to people with known disorders that already predispose them to a higher risk of suicide (and other behavior-related premature mortality) would be the interesting part if it worked.

    *Yes, I know that "behaviour" is the correct spelling in British English, but since I'm writing this in the US, I feel obligated to note that I am not misspelling it in my version of written language. It's my way of honoring The Economist magazine's editorial policy, in reverse, that is.

    • I honestly think sic isn't needed there and I believe most news organizations are phasing it out in general.

      I think it's better to assume that quotes are correctly quoted in the first place and to only use sic in instances where you specifically want to point out that the quote is mangling grammar or spelling in order to convey a specific impression to the reader.
      • I honestly think sic isn't needed there and I believe most news organizations are phasing it out in general.

        I agree, and I thought it was unnecessary and probably just a petty little dig when I saw The Economist do it. In addition to that, they "correct" proper names of US institutions as if they were merely descriptions.

        Anyway, from thence comes my retaliatory use of "sic".

    • It's supposed to be "[sic]", not "(sic)".

      Pedants of the world, challenge each other!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        False.
          Traditionally the sic appears after the quote in parentheses (round brackets): "(sic)", especially when the error is obvious
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic [wikipedia.org]

        • But the OP placed it within the quotation marks.

          “It’s a very complex behaviour (sic*).”

          He should have written it

          “It’s a very complex behaviour." (sic)

          Or as I advised

          “It’s a very complex behaviour [sic]."

          which suggests that it specifically applies to the last word.

          From the Wikipedia article you cited:

          When placed within quoted material, square brackets are almost invariably used in modern U.S. usage: "[sic]". Traditionally the sic appears after the quote in parentheses (round brackets): "(sic)", especially when the error is obvious.

          Furthermore, the asterisk should have appeared after the closing quotation mark.

  • If the blood is coming out of the patient's wrists in spurts, out of a gunshot wound to the head (where the patient has the gun in one hand and a note in the other), then it's likely the person is suicidal.

  • Not understanding the abstract. What kind of biomarkers? Do they indicate certain genes or do they indicate certain chemicals that are more prevalent during depression?

    If they indicate certain chemicals, then could those chemicals perhaps be responsible for depressed people having worse health and less energy than happy people? Of course depression is usually due to a variety of reasons, but could their elimination perhaps help depressed people recover faster?

    If they indicate certain genes, then that's a

  • And the biomarkers are caused by... {rolls dice} ...drinking coffee!

    Tune in next week when... {flips coin} ...drinking coffee can stave-off suicidal tendencies!

    Oh, and game shows are back!
  • “Suicide is not just related to mental illness,” he says. “It’s a very complex behaviour.”"

    Self promoting prick. It's mental illness. Stop trying to elevate your work beyond what it is.

    "Niculescu says that this type of work is usually done with much larger sample sizes but that he and his colleagues used rigorous, multi-step methods to weed out false positives."

    You have a fucking small sample size. Deal with it! And the sample was that of men with bipolar disorder

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