A new study suggests adolescents attempting suicide show abnormality in the frontal region of their brains.
Teens and young adults who are suffering from bipolar disorder also known as manic-depressive disorder and depression make up a significant proportion of annual suicide in the United States. 3% of all the US population develops bipolar at some stage in their lives. 6% of them attempt to suicide over twenty years.
The exact cause of bipolar is unknown; however it is known that genetics, physiological and environmental factors all contribute in its pathogenesis. Many susceptible genes are involved and family history plays an important part. Physiologically the disease is triggered by various elements as well: altered functioning of the power house of the cell known as mitochondria and sodium ATP-ase pump which regulates the entering of sodium in a cell, early stresses in life triggering hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes which results in the contrasting moods and abnormal modulation within different regions of brains.
The study showed brain scans differences in patients with bipolar, bipolar and history of attempt of suicide and those without bipolar disease.
Researchers chose a group of 14-25 years old patients with manic-depressive illness. The study included 68 such participants out of which 26 had made suicidal attempts. To compare the results scan were also performed on a group of 45 individuals, teens and young adults, who did not suffer from bipolar.
The two groups for the study showed considerable differences in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and related areas. It was found that people who attempted suicide lacked integrity of white matter in the prefrontal cortex and connections of prefrontal lobe to other regions of the brain that control emotions, memory and motivation. These abnormalities in the white matter may disrupt these areas to work together leading to suicidal attempts.
Researchers also found a connection between the degree of white matter abnormality with the number of suicide attempts and their gravity.
The prefrontal cortex is associated with the executive function of the brain which makes a sketch of reality without making the use of information current environment provides.
The study concludes that teens and young adults with mood disorders and depression with white matter deficit of the frontal cortex of the brain show a risk of suicide.
This research is yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal thus is considered preliminary.