Antidepressants and the risk of suicide in young persons – prescription trends and toxicological analyses

Authors

  • G. Isacsson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Psychiatry Southwest, Karolinska University Hospital-Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden
    • Göran Isacsson, Psychiatry Southwest, Karolinska University Hospital-Huddinge, S-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.

      E-mail: goran.isacsson@ki.se

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  • J. Ahlner

    1. Department of Forensic Toxicology and Forensic Genetics, National Board of Forensic Medicine, Linköping, Sweden
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Abstract

Objective

To assess trends in the use of antidepressants among young suicides after the warning that these drugs might increase the risk of suicide.

Method

Individual data of all 845 suicides in the 10- to 19-year age group in Sweden in the time period 1992–2003 (baseline), and in 2004–2010 (after the warning). Outcome data are prescriptions of antidepressants prior to death and detections of antidepressants in post-mortem toxicology.

Results

After the warning, suicide in this age group increased for five consecutive years (60.5%). The increase occurred among individuals not treated with antidepressants.

Conclusion

This study provides further support for the hypothesis that the warning, contrary to its intention, may have increased young suicides by leaving a number of suicidal young persons without treatment with antidepressants.

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