Suicide Prevention

Suicide preventionEastern and old-world medical approaches that existed for thousands of years before our Western conventional model, teach us that every part of our mind, body, and spirit, is connected to all other parts. Our body works like an ecosystem: Pull on one string and the others react.

Integrative and holistic practitioners sometimes struggle to convey this simple principle. It can be difficult for some people to accept: Why are we treating kidney function to address bone health? Or digestive health to address skin concerns? When it comes to mental health concerns, the interconnectedness can seem even more foreign, but overlooking it can have devastating consequences.

Research has identified some simple, common blood test results that correspond to a person’s risk of dying by suicide. This news might be shocking at first, but understandable when we really come to embrace holistic health.

I’m very aware that this is a difficult topic for many people. I’m choosing to share this information here in hopes that it encourages you or a loved one to seek support and treatment if you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide.


Low vitamin D:

A deficiency of this hormone is very much correlated in the literature to elevated risk of depression and suicide. In at least one study, blood levels of 62nmol were correlated to depression and levels of 47nmol were correlated to suicide attempts. Levels of 120nmol or more are often considered optimal by many Naturopathic Doctors and integrative healthcare practitioners.


Low Total Cholesterol:

We spend a lot of time worrying about how high cholesterol is bad for us. However, about 25% of our cholesterol is in our brain, and our brain (by dry weight) is made up of 60% fats. These fats have a direct impact on neurotransmitter function, including serotonin function. Total cholesterol levels lower than 3.6 mmol were correlated to 112% higher risk of suicidal ideation, according to some research. Consuming healthy fats might be correlated to improved mood and reduced risk of suicidal ideation. (Please do not make any changes to your cholesterol prescription medications without speaking to your healthcare provider first.)


High CRP:

CRP is a common inflammatory marker used in conventional care to assess risk of heart disease, or to explore pain or presence of acute infection. You can learn a little bit more about depression and inflammation in previous articles posted here.


I need to emphasize that these tests are correlated to risk of dying by suicide. They are not known to cause the increased risk, and of course increased risk does not mean that someone is going to die by suicide. Instead, these tests might offer an opportunity for affected people to initiate lifestyle and health changes that support deeper healing of a very complex health condition.




The majority of this information was presented by Dr. James Greenblatt in his Biological Models for Suicide Prevention course. Please explore his website for more information (designed for Clinicians) about addressing mental health concerns with a more functional and integrative approach.


Crisis Support:

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please keep this 24-hour Crisis Support Line number and information near-by: 1-888-616-6005. (This is current, as of January 2023.)

Additional support is available at the Canada Suicide Prevention Service.



* Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash 


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Zhang J, McKeown RE, Hussey JR, Thompson SJ, Woods JR, Ainsworth BE. Low HDL cholesterol is associated with suicide attempt among young healthy women: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Affect Disord. 2005 Dec;89(1-3):25-33.

Mental health, Naturopathic medicine

Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Dr. Sonya Nobbe is a Naturopathic Doctor and Director of Kingston Integrated Healthcare Inc. She has been practicing in the Kingston area since 2007. Dr. Sonya maintains a family practice, with a clinical focus on complex chronic disease, including Lyme disease and Fibromyalgia.


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