Genetic differences between suicide deaths and deaths of undetermined intent

Alexis C. Edwards, Henrik Ohlsson, Eve K. Mościcki, Jan Sundquist, Casey Crump, Kenneth S. Kendler, Kristina Sundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Few, if any, prior studies have considered whether undetermined intent (UDI) deaths and suicide deaths differ with respect to genetic liability for suicidal behavior or psychopathology. Methods: The authors used Swedish national registry data to identify suicide deaths (N = 31,835) and UDI deaths (N = 10,623); sociodemographic covariates; and registrations for psychopathology. Family genetic risk scores (FGRS) were derived for each form of psychopathology. The authors used LASSO models to assess genetic and phenotypic differences across outcomes. Results: In the multivariate LASSO regressions, higher FGRS for major depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide death were associated with lower odds of UDI relative to unambiguous suicide (OR = 0.91–0.95), while those for alcohol and drug use disorders, ADHD, and criminal behavior were associated with higher odds of UDI relative to unambiguous suicide (OR = 1.04–1.12). When the corresponding phenotypic registration status for these outcomes was included in a subsequent model, the associations were attenuated and of small magnitude, but many remained different from OR = 1. Conclusions: Aggregate genetic differences between unambiguous suicide decedents and UDI deaths are small, particularly when accounting for psychiatric comorbidity, but in some cases, statistically significant. These findings suggest that different analytic treatment of UDI deaths may be warranted depending on the research question. Replication in other samples, and using molecular genetic data, is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • aggregate genetics
  • psychiatric comorbidity
  • suicide
  • undetermined intent death


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