GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A laboratory at the Van Andel Institute in downtown Grand Rapids is at the forefront of the fight against rising suicide rates in the US.
Dr. Lena Brundin from VAI works with Dr. med. Eric Achtyes of Pine Rest joined Christian Mental Health Services to investigate how inflammation in the body can indicate suicide risk.
"When we get sick because we have stress In our lives, inflammation tends to increase. And we believe this may affect our neurological function, depressive episodes and even the suicide rate, "said Achtyes.
Researchers will be accompanying 160 people for one year during this five-year study.
The patients will give blood samples and clinical information. Researchers will work to identify blood-based biomarkers and find out which causes of inflammation can increase people's risk of suicide.
Brundin has been researching suicide for more than a decade. She cites this study, which is backed by a $ 3.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, the most important yet for VAI and Pine Rest.
"This is the first study to track patients longitudinally and we'll look for a year to see if we have enough data to give a definitive answer, "said Achtyes.
Inflammation is the body's response to many things like infections, injuries, chronic illness, stress and sleep deprivation.
"We fear this. In some people the inflammation becomes chronic and gets stuck. Then it could damage the brain, "Brundin said.
With a plethora of available anti-inflammatory therapies, researchers hope to integrate their findings into the development of new therapies that help people develop new therapies for suicide risk.
"But we still need to find out what type of inflammation is the dangerous type, and we need to conduct clinical trials on patients to see if this drug can really help," Brundin said.
Researchers will enroll study participants from Pine Rest as of October.
For people in times of crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available under 1,800,273.8255 online .
National Institute of Mental Health