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Suicide Attempt Heritability is Higher in Young People and Women, Study Finds

According to a study, there is a partial overlap in the genetic and environmental etiologies of suicide attempt and death, which also show minor gender differences and alter with time.

Suicide Attempt Heritability is Higher in Young People and Women, Study Finds
Image: Suicide Attempt in Women | InStyleHealth

The authors identified a large cohort of twins, full siblings, and half siblings (n=1,314,990) born between 1960 and 1990 and tracked until 2015. They used twin-family modeling to determine heritability for suicide attempt and suicide death, as well as genetic and environmental relationships between them. Finally, the link between young people's suicide attempts and adult suicide attempts was investigated.

Suicide attempt and death were moderately heritable in both women (attempt: additive genetic variance component [A], 0.52, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.44–0.56; death: A, 0.45, 95 percent CI, 0.39–0.59) and males (attempt: A, 0.41, 95 percent CI, 0.38–0.49), according to bivariate models.

Environmental connections were weaker (women: rE, 0.36, 95 percent CI, 0.29–0.45; men: rE, 0.21, 95 percent CI, 0.19–0.27), while genetic associations were substantial but incomplete (women: rA, 0.67, 95 percent CI, 0.55–0.67; men: rA, 0.74, 95 percent CI, 0.63–0.87).

Suicide attempt heritability was higher in young individuals (aged 10–24 years; A, 0.55–0.62) than in adults (aged 25 years; A, 0.36–0.38). Women had a stronger genetic link between attempts throughout childhood and adulthood (rA, 0.79, 95 percent CI, 0.72–0.79) than men (rA, 0.39, 95 percent CI, 0.26–0.47).

"These disparities must be taken into account when building risk prediction systems and preventative measures," the scientists wrote. "Suicide attempt and death should be considered separately whenever possible, even in the context of gene identification studies," says the author.


Source: Am J Psychiatry 2021;178:1060-1069
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