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expert reaction to review on neuroimaging of suicidal thoughts and behaviours

Research, published in Molecular Psychiatry, reports a connection between certain networks in the brain and risk of suicidal thoughts. 

 

Dr Nick Medford, Vice-chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Neuropsychiatry Faculty, said:

“This review, which collated information from other studies, attempted to find common areas of brain activity in people who are suffering from suicidal thoughts or have acted on them.

“The authors did find some brain regions commonly implicated and they fit with areas known to be involved in emotional processing and impulsive acts.

“If you know there are particular brain regions that tend to behave in particular ways in people who are suicidal then it may be possible to design treatments which change patterns of brain activity associated with suicidal urges. But we are still a long way from this.

“You can’t understand suicidal urges purely in terms of brain activity – understanding someone who is suicidal requires empathy, a willingness to listen and an awareness of what’s happening in their life.

“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and the hope is that these findings will prompt more research. Studies such as this will not lead to improvements in care without investment in further research and in mental health services.”

 

‘Imaging suicidal thoughts and behaviors: a comprehensive review of 2 decades of neuroimaging studies’ by Lianne Schmaal et al. was published in Molecular Psychiatry at 01:00 UK time on Monday 2nd December. 

DOI: 10.1038/s41380-019-0587-x

 

Declared interests

None received. 

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