Michigan State University and an international team of investigators have discovered the first evidence that a brain chemical called glutamic acid is more active in the brains of people who attempt suicide.
Glutamate receptors are synaptic receptors, a vital neurotransmitter that sends signals between nerve cells and has been suspected in playing a role in depression.
Researchers indicate the importance of this discovery in identifying a pattern of physiological similarity between these patterns.
Glutamate activity was measured by assessing quinolinic acid activity in the body, which flips a physiological chemical switch which causes glutamate to send more signals to nearby cells.
One hundred patients in Sweden were tested, about two-thirds of whom had been admitted to hospitals after attempting suicide.
The suicide patients had about twice as much quinolinic acid in their spinal fluid as did the healthy people. Those who indicated the strongest desire to end their lives were found to have the highest levels.