According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2010 there were a reported 38,364 deaths from suicide in America. In May the N.Y. Times reported that suicide rates have risen by over 30% from 1999-2010.
Suicide is an ever present danger in the mental health professions. Thereare no other conditions or set of circumstances, save a major psychical health problem, that will stop a clinic or clinician in their tracks. If a patient indicates, in any way, that this is a possibility of suicide, a social worker is instructed to immediately perform a risk-assessment. If Dr. Alexander Niculescu has it his way, there might be another intriguing alternative for the treatment of patients presenting with suicidal behavior.
According to Nature.com researchers have begun to identify bio-markers in human blood that could potentially identify people who are more prone to suicidal behavior.
“The strongest predictor was a biomarker encoded by a gene called SAT1. “It was head and shoulders above the rest,” says Niculescu. The work “opens a window into the biology of what’s happening,” he says.”
“..the small sample size means the results will have to be validated in much larger groups and tested for specificity and sensitivity before the results could be used clinically.”
If the study provides to be reliable, helping professionals could send a patient presenting with the symptoms of depression to a medical doctor for blood work in order to determine the risk for suicide. Such tests could be a boon to these professions who always walk that tenuous line along with their clients. In addition, a person whose family has a history of depression could opt to be tested for this marker to assess their own risks. It also does not seem impossible that a medical treatment for suicidal behavior might follow as well.
Written By Matthew Cohen, MSW
Our authors want to hear from you! Click to leave a comment