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Suicide death is a worldwide health crisis, claiming close to 800,000 lives per year. Recent evidence suggests that prediction and prevention challenges may be aided by discoveries of genetic risk factors. Here we focus on the role of rare (MAF <1%), putatively functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in suicide death using the large genetic resources available in the Utah Suicide Genetic Risk Study (USGRS). We conducted a single-variant association analysis of 30,377 rare putatively functional SNPs present on the PsychArray genotyping array in 2,672 USGRS suicides of non-Finnish European (NFE) ancestry and 51,583 publicly available NFE controls from gnomAD, with additional follow-up analyses using an independent control sample of 21,324 NFE controls from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. SNPs underwent rigorous quality control, and among SNPs meeting significance thresholds, we considered only those that were validated in sequence data. We identified five novel, high-impact, rare SNPs with significant associations with suicide death (SNAPC1, rs75418419; TNKS1BP1, rs143883793; ADGRF5, rs149197213; PER1, rs145053802; and ESS2, rs62223875). Both PER1 and SNAPC1 have other supporting gene-level evidence of suicide risk, and an association with bipolar disorder has been reported for PER1 and with schizophrenia for PER1, TNKS1BP1, and ESS2. Three genes (PER1, TNKS1BP1, and ADGRF5), with additional genes implicated by GWAS studies on suicidal behavior, showed significant enrichment in immune system, homeostatic and signal transduction processes. Pain, depression, and accidental trauma were the most prevalent phenotypes in electronic medical record data for the categories assessed. These findings suggest an important role for rare variants in suicide risk and provide new insights into the genetic architecture of suicide death. Furthermore, we demonstrate the added utility of careful assessment of genotyping arrays in rare variant discovery.

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