In Our Opinion: Research, Resources and Compassion Will Stem Rising Suicide Rates

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), December 15, 2018 | Go to article overview

In Our Opinion: Research, Resources and Compassion Will Stem Rising Suicide Rates


New research revealing a potential genetic link to suicidal behavior is an interesting advance in understanding the reasons why people choose to take their own lives and may eventually have value in the area of prevention. Efforts like this are necessary in trying to unravel the mystery of high suicide rates in Utah and in other areas, and why rates among some age groups continue to rise.

A study by University of Utah health researchers identified four gene variants associated with suicide risk, adding to growing evidence that some genetic predisposition may join other factors in leading a person toward suicide. The findings are based on an analysis of 43 extended families in which high suicide risk was observed over several generations. The research does not suggest that genetic makeup is a primary link to suicidal behavior, but it offers an indication that it may be an aggravating factor in conjunction with social, economic and environmental influences.

As we have seen rates of suicide in Utah jump dramatically in recent years, there is growing concentration on identifying potential causes and methods of effective intervention. While experts know much about what can lead to suicidal behavior, much more remains a mystery. Suicide rates tend to be higher in areas of higher elevation, for reasons that remain scientifically uncertain. While severe depression can lead to suicide, researchers also know of many cases in which a person with no history of clinical depression has taken his or her life.

It’s clear social pressures that disrupt a person’s psychological security are key to potentially destructive behavior. Kids who have been bullied and who struggle with sexual identity issues face higher risks. …

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