Transl Psychiatry 12 (1) 224 [2022-06-02; online 2022-06-02]
Suicide attempts (SA) are associated with excess non-suicidal mortality, putatively mediated in part by premature cellular senescence. Epigenetic age (EA) estimators of biological age have been previously demonstrated to strongly predict physiological dysregulation and mortality risk. Herein, we investigate if violent SA with high intent-to-die is predictive of epigenetics-derived estimates of biological aging. The genome-wide methylation pattern was measured using the Illumina Infinium Methylation EPIC BeadChip in whole blood of 88 suicide attempters. Subjects were stratified into two groups based on the putative risk of later committed suicide (low- [n = 58] and high-risk [n = 30]) in dependency of SA method (violent or non-violent) and/or intent-to-die (high/low). Estimators of intrinsic and extrinsic EA acceleration, one marker optimized to predict physiological dysregulation (DNAmPhenoAge/AgeAccelPheno) and one optimized to predict lifespan (DNAmGrimAge/AgeAccelGrim) were investigated for associations to severity of SA, by univariate and multivariate analyses. The study was adequately powered to detect differences of 2.2 years in AgeAccelGrim in relation to SA severity. Baseline DNAmGrimAge exceeded chronological age by 7.3 years on average across all samples, conferring a mean 24.6% increase in relation to actual age. No individual EA acceleration marker was differentiated by suicidal risk group (p > 0.1). Thus, SA per se but not severity of SA is related to EA, implicating that excess non-suicidal mortality in SA is unrelated to risk of committed suicide. Preventative healthcare efforts aimed at curtailing excess mortality after SA may benefit from acting equally powerful to recognize somatic comorbidities irrespective of the severity inherent in the act itself.