The possible Neuroscience of Suicide

Issues such as suicide befuddle mere people around the world and perplex even the minds of scientists. The reasons behind suicide have begun to be uncovered by scientists’ studies. Observations and behavioral clues were dissected and worked upon to determine what exactly causes suicide attempts to be carried out. Background information and conditions of the attempters are taken into perspective and compared to each other to discover correlations and continuous patterns. Although there is no set reason as to why suicides are attempted, there are many plausible answers.

As the annual numbers of suicide cases reach a sad 30,000, the question as to why they do it is emphasized and asked continuously by grieved family members. That same question is established as the key causal question: Why do people commit suicide? Many hypotheses have been generated to satisfy this question, but whether they are credible or not are yet to be seen.

A few hypotheses mentioned in this article are as follows: Low serotonin levels in the brain are linked to depression, aggressive behavior, and a tendency toward impulsiveness; few neurons in the orbital prefrontal cortex can cause suicide; individuals considering suicide had many more serotonin receptors.

Many experiments were carried out to test the credibility of the hypotheses and determine what caused people to commit suicide. All the experiments were held in relation to each other, applying to many other hypotheses. Ultimately, the experiments played a huge part in eliminating false hypotheses and supporting others to form one big result.

For the first experiment, Researchers examined brains for neuroanatomical, chemical, or genetic alterations that might have contributed to their act of suicide. The control group was the brain of a person (without a psychiatric disorder) of the same sex and age of death as the suicide brain. The control group and the experimental group (suicide brain) were compared and contrasted in meticulous detail to decipher whether the nervous systems had something to do with the act of suicide.

After tests and examinations of the brains, the difference in the availability of the brain chemical serotonin-previous research on the basis of impulsivity has indicated a shortage of it. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is one of the molecules that jump synapses between neurons to relay a signal from one such brain cell to another. As mentioned above, the reports indicated that there was a shortage of serotonin in the suicide brain. Serotonin in one way or another exerts a calming influence on the mind. That therefore indirectly states that the lowness of serotonins in the brain can cause impulsivity or havoc in the mind, because serotonins encourage a calming influence.

More research focused on the prefrontal cortex which includes the internal censor that keeps individuals from blurting out their opinions in awkward social situations or acting on potentially dangerous impulses. At a Neuropsychopharmacology conference, it was reported that the brains of people who were depressed and died by suicide contained fewer neurons in the orbital prefrontal cortex. Also, that area had one third the number of presynaptic serotor, in transporters that control brains had but roughly 30 percent more postsynaptic serotonin receptors. Together, therefore, the results suggest that the brains of suicides are trying to make the most of every molecule of serotonin they have by increasing the molecular equipment for sensing the neurotransmitter while decreasing the number of transporters that absorb it back again.

Also, elaborating back on the hypothesis regarding the prefrontal cortex, an “ifthen” statement can be formed regarding the correlation between the prefrontal cortex and suicide: If the amount of abnormality in the prefrontal cortex corresponds to the degree of the type of suicide, and a report was done to decipher the relation between activity in the prefrontal cortex of people who had committed suicide and the potential deadliness of the attempt, then the more lethal the suicide attempt, the bigger abnormality of the prefrontal cortex. And the results included information that those who committed suicide using the most dangerous means had the least serotonin-based activity in the prefrontal cortex, which ties back to the results up above saying that the lowness of serotonins in the brain can cause impulsivity or havoc in the mind, because serotonins encourage a calming influence, which thus state that the lack thereof would decrease that stage of calmness. Therefore, the hypothesis stating that correlation exists between the condition of the prefrontal cortex and the intensity of the suicide attempt was supported.

As for the final hypothesis, another “ifthen” statement can be generated to summarize the whole article: If people commit suicide because they have many more serotonin receptors, and a blood test was taken of suicidal and nonsuicidal people, then the suicidal people will have more serotonin receptors on their platelets, or clotting cells. And individuals considering suicide had a lot more serotonin receptors than nonsuicidal ones, so therefore, this hypothesis was supported.