Dissecting the Shared Genetic Architecture of Suicide Attempt, Psychiatric Disorders, and Known Risk Factors

Niamh Mullins, JooEun Kang, Adrian I Campos, Jonathan R I Coleman, Alexis C Edwards, Hanga Galfalvy, Daniel F Levey, Adriana Lori, Andrey Shabalin, Anna Starnawska, Mei-Hsin Su, Hunna J Watson, Mark Adams, Swapnil Awasthi, Michael Gandal, Jonathan D Hafferty, Akitoyo Hishimoto, Minsoo Kim, Satoshi Okazaki, Ikuo OtsukaStephan Ripke, Erin B Ware, Andrew W Bergen, Wade H Berrettini, Martin Bohus, Harry Brandt, Xiao Chang, Wei J Chen, Hsi-Chung Chen, Steven Crawford, Scott Crow, Emily DiBlasi, Philibert Duriez, Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Manfred M Fichter, Steven Gallinger, Stephen J Glatt, Philip Gorwood, Yiran Guo, Hakon Hakonarson, Katherine A Halmi, Hai-Gwo Hwu, Sonia Jain, Stéphane Jamain, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Craig Johnson, Vivek Appadurai, Annette Erlangsen, Merete Nordentoft, Thomas Werge, Major Depressive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Thomas Folkmann Hansen (Member of study group)

90 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Suicide 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.

METHODS: We 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.

RESULTS: Two 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.

CONCLUSIONS: Our 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)313-327
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Depressive Disorder, Major/genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders/genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted


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