Coroners and academics have called for Hong Kong laws to be relaxed to allow researchers to extract tissue from suicide victims to help determine if there is a genetic link to suicide. Australian and Canadian scientists have discovered that some people may be biologically predisposed to suicidal thoughts. A genetic mutation appears to increase a person's odds of committing suicide by reducing the ability of brain cells to absorb serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to mood, emotion, appetite and sleep. Researchers found that mutation in the serotonin transporter gene increased a person's chances of attempting suicide by threefold. In the latest Coroners' Report published last year, two coroners, Michael Chan Pik-kiu and William Lam Kui-po, said a study of this kind could not be carried out under Hong Kong's legislation because coroners had no power to order such research . Suicide is Hong Kong's most common form of traumatic death. Paul Yip Siu-fai, a University of Hong Kong professor and director of the Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, said. 'We need to find out if there are predisposing factors in human genes which cause certain people to have more suicidal inclinations. 'Research is needed in both the biological and sociological aspects.' He admitted it would be difficult to obtain the consent from the families of dead people, likening it to organ donation in traditional Chinese society. But Dr Yip said he hoped people saw such research differently. 'People should feel honoured to be able to help prevent similar tragedies in the future,' he said. Meanwhile, his suicide prevention centre will be launched next month along with an 18-month psychological autopsy project to examine factors associated with or leading to suicide. Under the project, 350 people from families in which a member had recently committed suicide and another randomly selected 350 people from ordinary families will be interviewed by experts from the University of Hong Kong. The project is an extended version of similar research released last year on 100 elderly suicide cases. Dr Yip said: 'It can be seen as a healing process for the grieving families. Suicide is not a remote incident which happens every day and happens to people around you.' Hong Kong's leading methods of suicide are jumping from a height, charcoal burning and hanging. Of the 988 suicide recorded in 2001, 608, or 61.5 per cent, were men. People aged 60 and above formed the bulk of these, with 27.3 per cent of all cases falling into this age group.