Structural brain alterations associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young people: results from 21 international studies from the ENIGMA Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours consortium

ENIGMA Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours Consortium

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Abstract

Identifying brain alterations associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) in young people is critical to understanding their development and improving early intervention and prevention. The ENIGMA Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours (ENIGMA-STB) consortium analyzed neuroimaging data harmonized across sites to examine brain morphology associated with STBs in youth. We performed analyses in three separate stages, in samples ranging from most to least homogeneous in terms of suicide assessment instrument and mental disorder. First, in a sample of 577 young people with mood disorders, in which STBs were assessed with the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Second, in a sample of young people with mood disorders, in which STB were assessed using different instruments, MRI metrics were compared among healthy controls without STBs (HC; N = 519), clinical controls with a mood disorder but without STBs (CC; N = 246) and young people with current suicidal ideation (N = 223). In separate analyses, MRI metrics were compared among HCs (N = 253), CCs (N = 217), and suicide attempters (N = 64). Third, in a larger transdiagnostic sample with various assessment instruments (HC = 606; CC = 419; Ideation = 289; HC = 253; CC = 432; Attempt=91). In the homogeneous C-SSRS sample, surface area of the frontal pole was lower in young people with mood disorders and a history of actual suicide attempts (N = 163) than those without a lifetime suicide attempt (N = 323; FDR-p = 0.035, Cohen’s d = 0.34). No associations with suicidal ideation were found. When examining more heterogeneous samples, we did not observe significant associations. Lower frontal pole surface area may represent a vulnerability for a (non-interrupted and non-aborted) suicide attempt; however, more research is needed to understand the nature of its relationship to suicide risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4550-4560
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Volume27
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

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