Researchers have identified key networks within the brain which they say interact to increase the risk that an individual will think about — or attempt — suicide.
Combining the results from all of the brain imaging studies available, the researchers looked for evidence of structural, functional and molecular alterations in the brain that could increase the risk of suicide.
They identified two brain networks — and the connections between them — that appear to play an important role.
The first of these networks involves areas towards the front of the brain known as the medial and lateral ventral prefrontal cortex and their connections to other brain regions involved in emotion. Alterations in this network may lead to excessive negative thoughts and difficlties regulating emotions, stimulating thoughts of suicide, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The second network involves regions known as the dorsal prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus system.
Alterations in this network may influence a suicide attempt, in part, due to its role in decision making, generating alternative solutions to problems and controlling behaviour, said the study. If both networks are altered this might lead to situations where an individual thinks negatively about the future leading to suicidal thoughts.