TRACING THE LINKS TO SUICIDE. ARE YOU LINKED IN?
I came across two fascinating research studies I wanted to share with you and would love to receive your opinion on. One was written by Eleanor Nelson, about research done at the Child Emotion Lab, in Madison, WI. The other was a John Hopkins study, written by Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent, in the Telegraph.
The Child Emotion Lab and work conducted by Dr.’s Seth Pollak, Moshe Szyf, and . Dr. Pollak explains that children of abuse will endure a lot of physical ailments because of the emotional trauma they endure as a child of abuse. Dr. Szyf believes our experiences in life affect our genes significantly and can alter the way our cells function without changing the DNA functions; this is called epigenetics. Epigenetics explains how identical cells, with the same DNA can turn one cell into a liver cell, and one into a heart cell, or one into a cancer cell.
Dr. Szyf conducted a study on rat pups in 2005, at McGill University, with colleagues, and found the rat pups had a gene that helped them manage stress, called the NR3C1 gene. The NR3C1 gene was a methylated muted gene, made of tiny quartets of carbon and hydrogen atoms, which stick to the DNA, and derail the cellular machinery that translates genes into proteins. Dr. Pollok’s staff checked the blood of children who came from abused homes and found they had the same methylated gene. NR3C1 is the gene that codes for the hormone cortisol, which helps you in flight or fight response, when you feel threatened. A child in an abusive situation feels threatened continually, so this becomes a problem when the cortisol levels stay high, leading to adult heart disease, diabetes II, auto immune diseases due to inflammation, and other diseases. Having these genes damaged due to abuse, is similar to the damage due to radiation or drug abuse on a cellular level.
Many survivors suffer with emotional, psychological, and physical ailments, another issue is mental illness, depression, and suicide. Survivors have mentioned wanting to drive into oncoming traffic or to drive off a bridge; or think of other ways to commit suicide. With the holiday’s coming up, I encourage you to surround yourself with those who love and support you, not family and friends who want you to pretend the abuse never happened because it is more comfortable for them in denial.
In another study by Dr. Zachary Kaminsky, at John Hopkins University, in Baltimore, MD, they found the gene SKA2, which can predict if someone may likely take their own life. Researchers have found the gene, SKA2, in the prefrontal cortex, is responsible for controlling impulsive behavior and preventing negative thoughts. If the gene is altered, the body can’t control the levels of cortisol in the system. Research showed victims had large amounts of cortisol in their system.
The blood test had a 90 % accuracy rate; and a 96% accuracy rate for those who have already attempted suicide, just by looking at their SKA2 levels.
Dr. Kaminsky thought this was important in placing patients on suicide watch, restricting drug access, equipment they might use, soldiers entering or returning from war, and what care to give.
The research was reported in the American Journal of Psychology
With the new technology, what do you think about the progress of mental health? Do believe these studies are accurate? What can we do to improve mental health in our society?
- Eleanor Nelson http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/epigenetics-abuse/
- Sarah Keaton http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10997862/Blood-test-can-predict-risk-of-suicide.html