Antidepressants and a possible link to lower suicide rates have been undergoing a lot of research for many years. Researchers have put much focus on learning more about the correlation between when there are increases in antidepressant sales and a decrease in suicide rates. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health gathered their data from a study that was conducted on the Nordic countries and were able to conclude that there is really no evidence to suggest that antidepressants lead to a decrease in the rate of suicide at any given time.
At the same time, researchers were also able to conclude that there is no correlation between a reduction in the sales of antidepressants that are considered more severe and toxic and a decrease in the suicide rate. For many Western areas such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, there has actually been a decline in the suicide rate since the second half of the 1980’s.
It was in 1990 that the newer Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, also known as SSRI drugs, finally were available to consumers. The sales of these new type of antidepressant drugs have been steadily increasing each year while the more toxic and older Tricyclic anti-depressant (TCA) drugs have been on the decline.
At this current time in our society, the FDA is now required by law to force their manufacturers to provide every antidepressant with a black box warning label with every product label. Black box warnings are considered the most severe warnings that can be placed on the label of prescriptions; however, this does not forbid doctors from still prescribing the drugs to their patients.
Researchers were very persistent in their research and really wanted to answer some critical questions regarding antidepressant use and suicide rate reduction. They wanted to know if a large increase in sales of the SSRI drugs within one year could be related to a noticeable decrease in suicides within that same year. They also wanted to know whether or not if the sales of TCA drugs declines, if there will be a correlation to a drop in the suicide rate.
After careful evaluation, researchers were able to conclude that the answer is no. Antidepressants of any type, whether TCA reduction or SSRI increase, are not related to the fall of the suicide rate. Researchers were also able to conclude that even if there seemed to be a link between the increase of SSRI drug sales and a decrease in the suicide rate; they may then have to suggest that this correlation was simply because of a decrease in TCA drugs.
It is important that research continues in regards to antidepressants and suicide. Suicide is still a very severe problem that our society is facing, whether it is teenagers, senior citizens, or people of any age that are experiencing issues that they find hard to deal with. Hopefully researchers will be able to figure out what IS successful in reducing the suicide rate in this country, and then professionals will be able to go from there to continue to reduce the rate as well.
Woods, T. Ph.D. 2010. Antidepressants not Linked to Declined Suicide Rates.