Jytte Banner


Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen


People with mental disorders have notable excess mortality. This excess mortality is associated with somatic conditions caused by health care and resulting conditions from inopportune lifestyle. The project Survive: Let the Dead Help the Living is a prospective, nationwide autopsy-based study. Autopsies of people with mental disorders may help to uncover a range of conditions critical to their survival by enabling studies that could otherwise not be performed. For obvious reasons, the tissue of living people cannot be studied as thoroughly as the tissue of dead people. Direct observation of the individual organ and subsequent tissue microscopy, forensic chemistry and molecular biology testing may provide important, detailed information that may substantially supplement the many other methods used when testing and examining living people. The overall hypothesis of the SURVIVE project is that optimized molecular biology autopsy of deceased people with mental disorders may reveal the importance of (1) somatic disease and organ changes, (2) metabolic syndrome, (3) use and abuse of alcohol, drugs and euphoriants, (4) factors of importance for the metabolism of pharmaceuticals and (5) acquired and/or congenital genetic variation in SDC. We are therefore convinced that this project will contribute by both forming and testing hypotheses, primarily in applied research. We also believe that this will raise the hope of rapid and direct implementation and anchoring of these new methods in current diagnostic treatment routines and preventive measures to benefit those living with mental illness. More specifically, a prospective anchoring of the project will be achieved by implementing an optimized autopsy algorithm for continued and improved monitoring of this type of death, which will, in turn, be instrumental in improving the diagnostic measures, disease control and management of people with mental disorders in the future.

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