Suicide Deaths Up in Youth After Antidepressant Warnings

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

After warnings and abrupt decline in treatment, downward trend of suicide deaths was reversed

THURSDAY, Oct. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings on antidepressants regarding suicidality risk among youth and the subsequent declines in treatment, there were increases in suicide deaths among youth, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Psychiatric Research & Clinical Practice.

Christine Y. Lu, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted an interrupted time series study of validated death data from 1990 to 2017 to estimate changes in trends of U.S. suicide deaths per 100,000 adolescents and young adults (ages 10 to 19 and 20 to 24 years, respectively) after antidepressant warnings regarding suicidality risk.

The researchers found that from 1990 to 2002 (before the warning), there was a marked decrease in suicide deaths. This downward trend reversed after the warnings (2005 to 2017) and abrupt declines in treatment. The authors found an immediate increase of 0.49 suicides per 100,000 adolescents and a trend increase of 0.03 suicides per 100,000 adolescents per year. Among young adults, an immediate increase of 2.07 suicides was seen per 100,000 adolescents, with a trend increase of 0.05 suicides per 100,000 per year. Among yearly cohorts of 43 million adolescents and 21 million young adults, there may have been 5,958 excess suicides nationally by 2010 assuming baseline trends continued.

“These data support a formal re-evaluation of the risks and benefits of the boxed antidepressant warnings, FDA’s strongest type of communications about a drug or drug class,” the authors write.

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