A new study finds differences in saliva of students with recent suicidal thoughts

New research finds bacteria changes in the saliva of college students who reported recent thoughts of suicide.

A study from the University of Florida has found that there are differences in bacteria between students who have and who have not had recent thoughts of suicide.

Considering other factors that can impact mental health, such as sleep and diet, the researchers found that the students with recent suicidal thoughts had higher levels of bacteria associated with periodontal disease and other inflammatory health conditions.

The researchers also found that the students also had lower levels of Alloprevotella rava, a bacteria that produces a compound that promotes brain health. These students also shared a genetic variation that may influence the presence of Alloprevotella rava in the mouth.

“These results are exciting because they tell us which bacteria we need to look at more closely. Our question now is, what are these bacteria doing biologically that affects mental health? Eventually, we hope this line of research could help predict suicidal ideation based on a person’s microbiome and could inform pro- or prebiotic treatments for those at risk”

said Angelica Ahrens, the lead researcher of the study.

“While various treatments and lifestyle changes can help, there is still much to be learned about how the human microbiome affects mental health and could be harnessed to improve it”.

Suicide is a worldwide issue, with over 703,000 people taking their own lives each year. Through research like this, we can better understand the factors that put some people at higher risk than others and identify better ways of keeping people safe and preventing the tragedy of suicide.

If you are having a mental health emergency or are worried about someone else, please reach out for support. Here’s a list of emergency contact numbers, helplines and organisations that may be able to help. 

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