BackgroundSuicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, and nonfatal suicide attempts, which occur far more frequently, are a major source of disability and social and economic burden. Both have substantial genetic etiology, which is partially shared and partially distinct from that of related psychiatric disorders.
MethodsWe conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 29,782 suicide attempt (SA) cases and 519,961 controls in the International Suicide Genetics Consortium (ISGC). The GWAS of SA was conditioned on psychiatric disorders using GWAS summary statistics via multitrait-based conditional and joint analysis, to remove genetic effects on SA mediated by psychiatric disorders. We investigated the shared and divergent genetic architectures of SA, psychiatric disorders, and other known risk factors.
ResultsTwo loci reached genome-wide significance for SA: the major histocompatibility complex and an intergenic locus on chromosome 7, the latter of which remained associated with SA after conditioning on psychiatric disorders and replicated in an independent cohort from the Million Veteran Program. This locus has been implicated in risk-taking behavior, smoking, and insomnia. SA showed strong genetic correlation with psychiatric disorders, particularly major depression, and also with smoking, pain, risk-taking behavior, sleep disturbances, lower educational attainment, reproductive traits, lower socioeconomic status, and poorer general health. After conditioning on psychiatric disorders, the genetic correlations between SA and psychiatric disorders decreased, whereas those with nonpsychiatric traits remained largely unchanged.
ConclusionsOur results identify a risk locus that contributes more strongly to SA than other phenotypes and suggest a shared underlying biology between SA and known risk factors that is not mediated by psychiatric disorders.