Animal models of suicide trait-related behaviors
Malkesman, O., Pine, D., Tragon, T., Austin, D.R., Henter, I.D., Chen, G., & Manji, H.K.
Although antidepressants are at least moderately effective in treating major depressive disorder (MDD), concerns have arisen that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are associated with suicidal thinking and behavior, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. Virtually no experimental research in model systems has considered the mechanisms by which SSRIs may be associated with this potential side effect in some susceptible individuals. Suicide is a complex behavior that is, at best, complicated to study in humans and impossible to fully reproduce in an animal model. However, by investigating traits that show strong cross-species parallels as well as associations with suicide in humans, animal models may elucidate the mechanisms by which SSRIs are associated with suicidal thinking and behavior in the young. Traits linked with suicide in humans that can be successfully modeled in rodents include aggression, impulsivity, irritability, and hopelessness/helplessness. Differences in animal response to particular paradigms and to SSRIs across the lifespan are also discussed. Modeling these relevant traits in animals can help clarify the impact of SSRIs on these traits, suggesting avenues for reducing suicide risk in this vulnerable population.