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Researchers create Test to Measure Suicide Risk

Update Date: Dec 12, 2013 01:40 PM EST

Oftentimes when someone commits suicide, beloved family members and friends state that they did not see it coming. Even though people with depression can get treatment via therapy or medications, predicting suicide can be very difficult. In order to find ways of preventing suicides, the researchers from Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry have created a "suicidality" test that could potentially help doctors reduce a patient's risk of suicide.

"Our hope is that the new test will assist the physician in significantly reducing the risk of suicide emerging from antidepressant drug use and will provide patients and families with valuable personal information to use with their doctors in weighing the risks and benefits of the medications," the CEO of Sundance, Kim Bechthold said according to Medical Xpress.

In order to create this type of test, the researchers studied suicide frequency and likelihood. They found that for 59 percent of patients, suicide risk was higher during the first two weeks of treatment and at any points when the drug dosages were increased. The team also reported that overall 8.1 percent of patients had adverse side effects due to their antidepressants, which have been tied to increasing suicide risk as well.

The researchers were successful in identifying 79 genetic biomarkers that contribute to a 91 percent probability that a patient would suffer from an increased suicide risk due to antidepressants. The test also reminds doctors that suicide risk is not exclusive to people under the age of 25. Instead, the data revealed that suicide risk was seen in people between the ages of 18 and 75.

Sundance is now going through another round of funding and plans on submitting the application within 18 months to the agencies. The study, "Genome-Wide Association Study of Antidepressant Treatment-Emergent Suicidal Ideation," was published in Neuropsychopharmacology.

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