Tuesday, September 10, 2013

World Suicide Prevention Day - The #Brain and Serotonin #sciart

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

[The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.]

Whenever we hear of someone that took their life, we ask ourselves, what could make them do that? We try to understand what was going on in the victims heads from the context of our own, which is impossible. Our minds are unique and as such, the way people behave and how we engage with people should be treated as sensitive experiences.

Through advances in neuroscience, scientists are learning more about the brain of ones that take their lives. Below is a resulting drawings stemming from what I read.


In a transcript I read, in New York, many suicides are done by either hanging or jumping from heights. For the drawing, I chose to depict the act through hanging.[2]

In the brains of those studies, the chemical Serotonin draws the most attention. Serotonin is understood to regulate our moods, sleep, behavior and sexual desire.[1] Of brains studied, serotonin levels were off (suicide victims had 30% more) compared to the brains of those that died suddenly from either accidents or natural causes. There's more serotonin than there should be, they are also smaller and don't work right. In the drawing above, you notice that the letters spelling out serotonin go around the rope that's forming the noose.

Another key factor for suicidal brains is the workings of the Prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is shaded in the above drawing. This is where our decisions are processed. If this area is damaged or malfunctioning, rash decisions and impulses aren't reasoned out which could lead to someone going through with taking their life.

If you or someone you know are showing signs of distress, please get help:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Michelle Hunter
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034

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1: "What is Serotonin?" http://health.yahoo.net/articles/depression/what-serotonin January 5, 2012
2: "NPR The End of Life: Biology of Suicide" http://www.npr.org/programs/death/980429.death.html April 29, 1998

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