Suicidal Behavior May Run In Families

Those damned family genes…..I find it a bit of a curse that no one can be blamed for….it would be a less populated world had we known that our DNA is working against us. To my children, I ask for your forgiveness……

The article at the bottom of this writing was coincidentally written a few weeks after my son’s death by suicide. It tells of new studies that relate suicide to family genes. My father shot himself a couple of years before I was born and lived to carry on the curse was diagnosed as being a “neurotic depressive.” Unfortunately, he dealt with it all of his life with alcohol. I just remember in the middle of any chaotic family crisis when my father was raging mad, my mother would utter to me, as if it was somehow comforting or a reason why, that “your father is sick…he needs help.” The word “help” was not spoken with true concern but rather with venom. After all, we were all hostages to our situation…..our Damned No-good Assets.

I think of my own battle with anxiety attacks from my late twenties that lasted around ten years. My middle child has issues that have been labeled as Borderline Personality Disorder. My sister has a host of mental concerns and has attempted suicide and her son who has had several diagnosis that concern behavior and poor judgment….then there is my sweet boy who was never diagnosed with anything. He dealt with his sufferings in silence and expressed it in his art and writings. In hindsight, many things have come to light.

I have read so much here and there about this and that until I am just going crazy with no answers and then again too many answers. I have read all the negative things about Ritalin and its affect on the brain but when my son was prescribed the medication for his ADD there were no long term results yet of how it might affect him. Did I kill my boy with my ignorance of all of this? Did I risk his life in order for him to be able to learn and pay attention? If I had known….he could still be here today. Did I kill him by the mere fact that I gave birth to him? DNA is deadly.

I read the biography of Katherine Hepburn. If memory serves me well, there were 7 suicides in her family. Some did not know about the others. They were not mere copy cat types of suicide. DNA?

One thing my children did not lack was love and nurturing and complete care. I HATE those articles on suicide where they make claims that suicide stems from something gone wrong in childhood…maybe neglect….sexual abuse…..etc… We who are left behind and want answers are devastated enough by the horrific loss and the grief and guilt. It is so unfair to say that the person was abused or treated badly by their own parents or family. I was mistreated but I never attempted suicide….my son came from a loving home with all the advantages I never had and yet, he died by suicide.  Perhaps, I rather like the reason to be DNA…that my son died not because of lack but because of blood.  It seems that science has discovered a great many things that can be hung on “we are born that way.” Was this part of God’s plan? The Bible tells me that He knew us before we were knitted into our mother’s womb. If this be the case….and I have no doubt…then He knew all along about our DNA straight from the two best sinners in the world…Adam and Eve.



March 24, 2009|By Elizabeth Landau CNN

The poet Sylvia Plath, who made a name for herself through prose and poetry that conveyed a sense of depression and suicidal tendencies, famously died by asphyxiating herself in an oven in 1963.

The recent reported suicide of her son, marine biologist Nicholas Hughes, brings to light a known psychiatric phenomenon: the heredity of suicidal behavior.

A first-degree relative — a parent, sibling or child — of a person who has committed suicide is four to six times more likely to attempt or complete a suicide, said Dr. David Brent, psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Studies on twins have shown that suicidal behavior is between 30 and 50 percent due to heritable factors, he said. Suicide victims’ biological relatives who were adopted away also show an increased risk of suicide, he said.

The rate of suicide in America is 10.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people, according to the latest information from the National Institute of Mental Health. That means, although the likelihood of suicidal behavior increases in families, a completed suicide is still a rare event, Brent said.

“Genetics is not destiny,” he said. “The odds are still very much against you having this happening to another relative.”

Family history of suicide and family history of mental disorder are two risk factors that the National Institute of Mental Health lists.

More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have depression or another mental disorder, or a substance abuse disorder in combination with another mental problem, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Learn about the link between depression and creativity

Research shows that depression runs in families. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows biological markers for the inherited condition. The researchers found, in a sample of 131 people, that the biological offspring of depressed people had structural differences in their brain. Some of these people had been followed for more than 25 years.

People at high risk of developing depression had a 28 percent thinning of the right cortex, the brain’s outermost surface, the study found. Those with an extra thinning abnormality in the left cortex were most likely to develop depression or anxiety.


One thought on “Suicidal Behavior May Run In Families

  1. Another reason why it’s so important that one not “judge” another…influences well beyond our control. In spite of it all, God is still on the Throne…therein lies the Faith crisis for many. The “Why?” question directed at God because of His omniscience and omnipotence. People sometimes blame themselves because “We couldn’t or we cannot” BUT what about God? No limitations on His part! I believe in the end, it all comes down to trusting God…no matter how difficult, not understandable or painful something is.

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