The search for genetic risk factors associated with suicidal behavior

Victor Hesselbrock, Danielle Dick, Michie Hesselbrock, Tatiana Foroud, Marc Schuckit, Howard Edenberg, Kathy Bucholz, John Kramer, Theodore Reich, Alison Goate, Laura Bierut, John P. Rice, John I. Nurnberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Suicide and suicidal behavior are prevalent among individuals with psychiatric disorders, including alcohol dependence. A genome screen was performed in multiplex alcohol dependent families ascertained as part of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism to identify chromosomal regions of interest related to two types of suicidal behavior: suicide attempts and suicidality. Methods: Sibling pair analyses were used to conduct linkage analyses using both qualitative and quantitative suicide-related phenotypes. The qualitative trait of "suicide attempts" was examined using 59 affected sibling pairs. The quantitative trait of "suicidality" was examined using all possible 1366 sibling pairs and 705 independent sibling pairs. Results: For the qualitative phenotype suicide attempts, chromosome 2 yielded a maximum lod score of 4.2. For the quantitative suicidality index, a maximum lod score of 1.8 was observed on chromosome 3, and a lod score of 1.5 was found on chromosome 1. Conclusions: This study represents the first genome-wide scan of suicidal behavior. Significant evidence of linkage was found on chromosome 2 for the phenotype suicide attempts, the same chromosomal region previously reported to be linked to alcohol dependence in this sample. This finding does not seem to be due solely to an association between suicide and alcohol dependence. There was more modest evidence of linkage to chromosomes 1 and 3 for suicidality; however, these findings did not reach statistical significance. There was no overlap in findings for these two phenotypes of suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70S-76S
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Alcoholism
  • COGA
  • Genetic Risk
  • Suicidal Behavior


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