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Is suicide genetic ?

  1. Mar 14, 2006 #1


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    Is suicide genetic ? a thought i had, as i know of two families where more
    than one male member has comitted suicide, one where father and two sons
    took this way out, one where two brothers did the same, even using the
    same method.
    One of these guys i knew very well, he had a good well paid job, nice house
    and family, and seemed very happy with his lot, i was talking to him the day
    before he commited suicide, and he seemed sane and in good humour.
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  3. Mar 14, 2006 #2


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    I do not believe there exist enough data to distinguish between environmental and genetic factors proper on this issue, even though I think it is fairly well established that there is a higher risk for suicide if someone in your family has committed it prior to you.
  4. Mar 14, 2006 #3


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    Perhaps human behavior, or rather the neural patterns, which cause depression are genetic. Certain psychological disorders seem to run in families.

    Sometimes people seem happy and cheerful when in a 'manic' phase of a cycle of manic-depression, or what is now known as bipolar disorder.

  5. Mar 14, 2006 #4


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    I am not sure if male suicide is more prevalent, it seems so to me, if so why?
    The three members of one family that commited suicide, were all male and
    all hanged them selfs.
  6. Mar 14, 2006 #5
    Male suicides are much more prevailent than female suicides. I don't think its genetic althought there may be disorders that will put people at risk for suicide. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/suicideprevention/suifact.cfm [Broken]

    This website has specific findings on suicide rates and causes. I don't know why men are more apt to kill themselves. Although there are some who speculate its because men are less likely to hesitate whereas women might.

    I agree with Astronuc about some of the potential causes of suicide being bipolar disorder and depression. However, depression is linked most directly with suicide. There are many factors that play into that scenario and just because someone appears happy they may still be suffering from clinical depression. Its caused by an imbalance of seretonin in the brain because the synapes will reuptake too much of that neural transmitter. There are studies that have started to link norepinephrine imbalances to depression as well. Anti-depressants work to fix this chemical imbalance.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Mar 14, 2006 #6


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    I think that knowing someone personally who has comitted suicide, especially if that person was a respected member of a prior generation, may "unlock" that response for an individual, where someone who did not have such a personal example would perhaps be more likely to choose another response to the same underlying condition (drugs, counseling,...)
  8. Mar 14, 2006 #7
    The (Ernest) Hemingway family has had a tendency toward suicide.

    Women attempt suicide more often; men are more often successful, using more violent methods.

    90% of suicides are believed to have a concomitant mental illness.
  9. Mar 15, 2006 #8
    Suicide occurs more often in certain cultures, e.g. Japan, so I think culture influences this too - e.g. concepts of honor, success, purpose of life. That's separate from the biological causes of depression that lead to conditions for suicide. I wouldn't think it's a trait that can be passed on, or a behavior that is selected for, but rather a set of conditions that predisposes some more than others to choose suicide. All people require activities to enrich there lives, to keep them happy enough to reproduce. If we are depressed and full of despair, then we haven't received enough enrichment to keep our will to maintain life, and death is actually preferable. This would include external situations, not preexisting biological syndromes/conditions, such as solitary confinement, abuse, torture. Animals can die from this too, being too "sad" or whatever the animal equivalent is to actually keep themselves alive. This happens especially, possibly only, with captive animals.

    side note - are people that are diagnosed with depression more likely to commit suicide in our culture vs others? That is, I think social conditions and lifestyles led might have an influence even with predisposed individuals...and I don't mean cultures that stigmatize suicide, I mean are depressed people more likely to be depressed in certain cultures.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
  10. Mar 15, 2006 #9
    Here's an example of what I mean, I think social conditions lead more women to be unhappy and frustrated with their position in life (which they can't always change due to societal constraints). That's why women may http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicides#Distinction_between_suicide_and_attempted_suicide" more often, as a reaction to constraints. Normally, I think women tend to be more on the median, or happier. Men are designed, in a lot of ways, to be more variable and extreme, e.g. in intelligence, mental state, behavior. As I've learned it, this is because men have to be more variable (as a group) in order to get mating opportunities, women are designed to be more stable (as a group) in order to perfect their survival skills (mating isn't a problem for the majority of women). So, that's why I think women are more stable in happiness/mood, and actually "act out" more (the majority don't actually want to die, I think) as a reaction to undesirable conditions. Men, however, actually are more likely (according to the above theory) to be predisposed to biological mood/mental health variation, and thus are more likely to actually want to die.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  11. Mar 15, 2006 #10
    From a study: "[URL [Broken] and Sex Differences In Suicide Rates Relative to Major Depression In The United States

    We found that the relationship between the 1-year prevalence of major depression and the annual suicide rate varied among five ethnic groups and by gender. Puerto Ricans as a whole and by gender had higher depression rates than whites. Mexican Americans as a whole and men, but not women, had significantly lower rates of depression than whites. Males of all ethnic groups had suicide rates relative to major depression that were an order of magnitude higher than those of the females from the corresponding ethnic group. Among males, whites, Cuban Americans, and blacks had the highest suicide rates relative to the rates of major depression. Puerto Rican males appeared to be relatively protected. Among females, whites had the highest relative suicide rate and Mexican American and Puerto Rican females had the lowest rates.

    I think this fits with the theory I proposed.

    Note of historical relevance - Euro-Western women, more often than men, used to be diagnosed with "hysteria" in the 1800s, so prevalent that the gendered term "female hysteria" was created. If women are less likely to have depression, then why were women diagnosed more often? I think this is an example of women acting out because they are frustrateed with their social life, and are then mistakenly thought to be disordered (by the men who didn't see a problem with the way things were). Theories link it specifically to sexual dissatisfaction, and call it a conversion disorder.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  12. Mar 17, 2006 #11

    This is kinda similar to what I said earlier about women being more likely to hesitate before they commit suicide. In the time they hesitate they're thinking changes and many times women don't actually commit suicide because of what they start to think about before they go to kill themselves.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  13. Mar 17, 2006 #12
    What I wonder is why people feel suicide is necessary. I'd be curious to find out when suicide really began to happen. Obviously its safe to say it has been around for a very long time. I'd like to know why and when it started. Although I think it's possible to speculate the why portion of my question, I'm not sure we could really nail down a definitive answer other than "the person was unhappy". This part is evident. I also think its safe to say unhappy people sometimes kill themselves.

  14. Mar 17, 2006 #13
    Recall the worst you ever felt. Then imagine (as if you could) that feeling lasting without cessation for years, no matter what you did trying to relieve it. Apparently, the brain can be so broken that people often approach this condition.

    Suicidality requires healing by society, not just responsibility foisted upon the individual. This is a prime example that we not only support each other by small kindnesses, but also survive major traumas together within the altruism of human family.
  15. Mar 21, 2006 #14
    The basic tendancies of men and the women and they way they handle their problems I think plays a major role here. Men tend to want to take care of their problems on their own and want to feel as though they are in control. Women tend more often to want to have someone to talk to or some form of outside assistence and are more social about problem solving. So to put a reasoning behind the 'hesitation' you mention I'd say it's likely connected to a female's tendancy to prefer social action and more often suicidal thoughts turn into a plea for help than an actual attempt at killing one's self.
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