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predicting suicide risk | blood test | app| depression | terezia farkas | author | beliefnet

 

Imagine predicting suicide risk with apps and blood test. According to the Washington Post, it is possible. Scientists have developed a system of blood tests and apps that can 90% predict if someone will start thinking about suicide or attempt it.

A study published by researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine took a look at two apps. One app measures mood and anxiety. The other app asks questions about life experiences and situations. For example, some of the questions the apps ask are: How high is your physical energy and the amount of moving about that you feel like doing right now? How good to you feel about yourself and your accomplishments right now? How uncertain about things do you feel right now?

The researchers avoided asking questions about suicide directly. Writing in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the researchers said that “predicting suicidal behaviour in individuals is one of the hard problems in psychiatry, and in society at large.”

“One cannot always ask individuals if they are suicidal, as desire not to be stopped or future impulsive changes of mind may make their self-report of feelings, thoughts and plans to be unreliable,” Alexander B. Niculescu III, a professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at Indiana University, and his co-authors wrote. (Molecular Psychiatry)

For the blood test, researchers looked at special RNA biomarkers. These RNA biomarkers seem to predict suicidal thinking. In other words, if the biomarkers are there, the probability of suicidal thinking increases in the person.

Researchers did the blood test on a group of 217 men. The men were suffering from bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. About 20 percent went from no suicidal thoughts to a high level of suicidal thoughts while they were being seen at a clinic at the university. Those men all had the RNA biomarkers that predict suicidal thinking.

Dr. Niculescu believes the apps are ready to be used in the real world, especially in emergency departments. The apps can easily be used with mobile devices. Testing of RNA biomarkers is something that will be possible in the near future, but for now is too costly for most hospitals.

There are two problems with this study. One, the subjects were all men. Women are just starting to be studied. Two, subjects all had some type of mental illness. Would the apps and blood test work on people who haven’t yet been diagnosed? In other words, can the tests predict if a person will get depressed in the future?

It’s certainly positive news that researchers are trying to find ways to predict suicide risk in a person as a type of suicide prevention.

Twitter: #depression #anxietyproblems #bipolar @tereziafarkas

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