Loneliness can lead to isolation, depression and suicidal thoughts. That’s why a new study out of Western University is focusing on loneliness.

Twins, 750 pairs of them, were studied to get a more in-depth look at what causes loneliness

“We were looking at adult twins, both identical and fraternal, to demonstrate what degree of loneliness has a genetic component,” says Dr. Julie Aitken Schermer, a researcher at Western.

The twin study group was asked a series of questions about their feelings of loneliness, isolation and lack of companionship and the research team found that 35 per cent of the variation is due to genetic factors.

“Loneliness is demonstrated to be predictive of depression and suicidal ideation, which has been found to have strong genetic bases and so if we know it has a genetic component, we now can look at links to non-critical indicators,” she says.

The research also found that the younger generation is actually lonelier than seniors, for example, and Schermer says there’s a reason why.

“We are producing a more lonely society, individuals are more isolated, they are interacting with their technology more than they are interacting with other people. They aren’t having the same richness of interaction.”

And Schermer says that’s a big concern, especially for future generations.

That's because if we start getting a lonelier group, for those who are already predisposed to loneliness it can exacerbate their loneliness and then it’s more likely to manifest into depression and suicidal ideation.