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Genetic Connections with Suicide

Hayden Hedman

CDC Employee

Suicide, and the Genetic Connections.

*TW: Suicide is discussed below

How have suicide rates increased over the years?

In terms of rates there has been an increase in the last few decades. From 2000-2018 there has been an increase in over 35%. In 2020 alone suicide was the highest mortality rate in the United States with over 45,000 deaths.

What research in mental health have you conducted?

In my own research I mainly studied infectious diseases among animals and humans, but recently I studied mental health disorders in the state of North Dakota. I’ve noticed that there has been an increasing trend in 2019, and 2020 in all demographics including race, ethnicity, and gender. While these are preliminary findings, they may become useful for targeting specific disorders in the future.

Of your knowledge, is there research that proves suicide can be connected to genes?

In terms of genetic links to mental health and suicidal behaviors it’s difficult to pinpoint now an exact genetic marker for this disease. However, a broad amount of research has demonstrated that there are a wide range of disorders such as bipolar, major depression, substance abuse all has genetic and hereditary factors that can contribute to mental health and suicidal behaviors.

Are there certain individuals of groups who are at higher risk of suicide than others?

When analyzing the different of gender in suicidal behaviors its hard to find one cause over the other. Research has shown high risk groups such as elderly populations, people that live in obscure areas, veterans, indigenous persons, and gender and sexual minorities can be at higher risk for suicidal behaviors. So, providing those resources and making sure there is help in the area is a key factor of working to prevent suicide.

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