Clinical, Genomic, and Neurophysiological Correlates of Lifetime Suicide Attempts Among Individuals With Alcohol Dependence

Research has identified clinical, genomic, and neurophysiological markers associated with suicide attempts (SA) among individuals with psychiatric illness. However, there is limited research among those with an alcohol use disorder, despite their disproportionately higher rates of SA. Researchers examined lifetime SA in 4,068 individuals with DSM-IV alcohol dependence from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (23% lifetime suicide attempt; 53% female; 17% Admixed African American ancestries; mean age: 38). Researchers first looked at clinical factors that might increase the risk of suicide attempts among these individuals. They also conducted a genome-wide association study to see if specific genes were related to suicide attempts. Additionally, they investigated whether individuals who had attempted suicide had higher genetic scores for other psychiatric conditions like alcohol use disorders, lifetime suicide attempts, and depression.

Researchers explored the differences in brain activity between those who had attempted suicide and those who had not. They specifically focused on the connectivity between different regions of the brain using a method called electroencephalogram (EEG). The study found one gene, called RFX3, that was associated with suicide attempts among individuals with major depression, which supported previous research. They also found that only the genetic score for suicide attempts was linked to reporting a suicide attempt, meaning that individuals with a higher genetic risk were more likely to have attempted suicide. This study highlights the need for further investigation into suicide attempts among individuals with alcohol use disorders. It suggests that people with alcohol dependence who have attempted suicide often have other serious mental health conditions and a higher genetic risk for suicide attempts.

Barr PB, Neale Z, Schulman J, Mullins N, Zhang J, Chorlian DB, Kamarajan C, Kinreich S, Pandey AK, Pandey G, Saenz de Viteri S, Acion L, Bauer L, Bucholz KK, Chan G, Chao M, Dick DM, Edenberg HJ, Foroud T, Goate A, Hesselbrock V, Johnson EC, Kramer J, Lai D, Plawecki MH, Salvatore JE, Wetherill L, Agrawal A, Porjesz B, Meyers JL (2023) Clinical, genomic, and neurophysiological correlates of lifetime suicide attempts among individuals with alcohol dependence. medRxiv. PMID: 37162915; PMCID: PMC10168504; DOI: 10.1101/2023.04.28.23289173.