Doctors at Johns Hopkins University found that DNA could play a key role in determining someone's risk of suicide. The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, found that the gene SKA2, which is involved in stress reaction, could predict suicide risk. The researchers conducted three experiments on brain samples from the deceased, and they conducted another three experiments using blood.
The Johns Hopkins team has previously studied postpartum depression risk factors, which they found were related to the body's level of the stress hormone cortisol. The new study found that people with less SKA2 had higher cortisol levels. In the study, researchers found that the brains of those who had died from suicide had less SKA2 than the brains of those who had died from other causes.
The researchers were then able to predict suicide risk with "80 to 90 percent accuracy based on the severity of the risk," The Daily Beast reports. The doctors are now planning to test new samples from military soldiers.
"If we can identify who is at risk, we may be able to intervene in effective ways," Dr. Zachary Kaminsky, lead author of the study, told The Daily Beast. "Notably, we could identify individuals in military populations who are more vulnerable to stress. We know they're going to be experiencing stress when they go off to combat."