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Researchers exploring whether blood holds indicators for depression and suicidal thoughts

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Researchers in Michigan are launching a study to see if a blood sample can indicate a person’s risk for depression and suicidal thoughts.

News of the study was first reported in Bridge Magazine.

The five year study is currently underway, seeking 160 patients with depression and suicidal thoughts to participate.

Dr. Eric Achtyes is a Psychiatrist with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, and is overseeing the study. He said some research has linked brain inflammation and suicide. This study will see if blood carries markers for suicidal thoughts.

“The idea was could we develop a blood test that could also help inform a doctor or a provider whether somebody is at risk for suicide,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been working on.”

Achtyes said the study will be taking blood from a group of patients that has depression and a second group with depression and suicidal thoughts and comparing the samples.

“Do the inflammatory markers go up when they are more inflamed, does that correlate with increased depression and suicidality, and then importantly might those inflammation precede the development of depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior? That’s what we’d also like to understand.”

Achtyes said he suspects not all kinds of depression will be linked to inflammation.

The five year study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

If you are in crisis, or know someone who is, help is availble through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.