Researchers discover genetic link to ideas and actions of self-harm


More people die from suicide in Australia each year than from cancer, and a lot of work is done to uncover the underlying causes, both mental and physical.

Professor James Scott, head of QIMR’s mental health program as well as a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist, said the findings put into context much of what he and his colleagues saw in people who exhibited features of self-injury.

“From a clinical point of view, this is really important, because if you take two people who have been exposed to the same stressor, one could take it in stride and the other could become suicidal,” he said. he declared.

“What this study shows for the first time is that some of this suicidal thought is genetic, it’s out of their control.”

Professor Scott, who was not directly involved in the research, said it was important because it helped further remove the stigma surrounding self-injurious actions and thoughts.


“People still often think that suicidality is due to a weakness of character, and it’s not at all, it’s partly genetically triggered,” he said.

“There is a biological basis, and being aware of it allows people to not be so self-critical and self-accusing, and maybe to be kinder to themselves.”

Dr Renteria said the researchers expected to find a number of other genes linked to self-harming thoughts or actions.

“Eleven genes are not enough, we need a lot more evidence, but it is an important step forward,” he said.

The researchers used data collected from the UK Biobank and the Queensland Twin Registry, with the study results being published in the journal Scientific reports.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can find help at Safety rope on 13 11 14 or Beyond the blue at 1300 224 636.

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