Genome-wide significant regions in 43 Utah high-risk families implicate multiple genes involved in risk for completed suicide

Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Nov;25(11):3077-3090. doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0282-3. Epub 2018 Oct 23.


Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Although environment has undeniable impact, evidence suggests that genetic factors play a significant role in completed suicide. We linked a resource of ~ 4500 DNA samples from completed suicides obtained from the Utah Medical Examiner to genealogical records and medical records data available on over eight million individuals. This linking has resulted in the identification of high-risk extended families (7-9 generations) with significant familial risk of completed suicide. Familial aggregation across distant relatives minimizes effects of shared environment, provides more genetically homogeneous risk groups, and magnifies genetic risks through familial repetition. We analyzed Illumina PsychArray genotypes from suicide cases in 43 high-risk families, identifying 30 distinct shared genomic segments with genome-wide evidence (p = 2.02E-07-1.30E-18) of segregation with completed suicide. The 207 genes implicated by the shared regions provide a focused set of genes for further study; 18 have been previously associated with suicide risk. Although PsychArray variants do not represent exhaustive variation within the 207 genes, we investigated these for specific segregation within the high-risk families, and for association of variants with predicted functional impact in ~ 1300 additional Utah suicides unrelated to the discovery families. None of the limited PsychArray variants explained the high-risk family segregation; sequencing of these regions will be needed to discover segregating risk variants, which may be rarer or regulatory. However, additional association tests yielded four significant PsychArray variants (SP110, rs181058279; AGBL2, rs76215382; SUCLA2, rs121908538; APH1B, rs745918508), raising the likelihood that these genes confer risk of completed suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicide, Completed*
  • Utah