American students who recently had suicidal thoughts were shown to have different saliva bacteria than those who didn't, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature last week.
According to the CDC, suicide was the second leading cause of death in America for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. Among 67,000 college students surveyed, 24% of them reported harboring suicidal thoughts, and 9% actually attempted suicide, a 2018 study shows.
The researchers compared salivary microbiota, or the salivary microbiome, a collection of bacteria in the salivary glands, to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a collection of genes that code for cell proteins essential to the human immune system.
The comparison was made between the experimental group – 47 young adults with "recent suicidal ideation (SI)," accounting for 12.6% of participants, and the control group – 325 young adults "without recent SI," accounting for 87.4% of participants, according to the study.
"Microbial-genetic associations may be important players in the diathesis-stress model for suicidal behaviors."Study
"Furthermore, rs10437629, previously associated with attempted suicide, was correlated here with SI and the absence of Alloprevotella rava, a producer of an organic acid known to promote brain energy homeostasis," reads the study.
"Hence, microbial-genetic associations may be important players in the diathesis-stress model for suicidal behaviors," the study said.