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Biological causes of suicide

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Genetic and biological factors play a large role in suicide likelihood. Research has shown that suicidal behaviour runs in families. A notable example are the suicides of the Hemingway family in which five members committed suicide.

In 1985, the American Journal of Medical Genetics studied an Amish community in Pennsylvania. The studies revealed that four families, representing only 16 percent of the total Amish population, accounted for 73 percent of all Amish suicides.

Some scientists claim 10 to 15 genes account for triggering suicide attempts. Similarly how depression is linked genetically, family ties may also have a large effect on one's suicide risk.



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  • Traskman-Bendz L, Mann JJ. Biological aspects of suicidal behaviour. In: Hawton K, van Heeringen K, eds. International handbook of suicide and attempted suicide. Chichester: Wiley, 2000:65–78.

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