Suicide Rates and Prescription of Antidepressants

This study by Simone Amendola, Martin Plöderl, and Michael P. Hengartner has been published by Crisis (The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention). The abstract says:

Background: Previous ecological studies reported that increasing antidepressant prescriptions were associated with decreasing suicide rates. 

Aim: To determine whether antidepressant prescription prevalence is negatively associated with suicide rates (i.e., as antidepressant prescribing increases, suicide rates decrease) between 1999 and 2020. 

Method: The study protocol was pre-registered on the Open Science Framework ( Publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiological Research (CDC WONDER) and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) were used. 

Results: Overall, both the antidepressant prescription prevalence and the suicide rate were increasing from 1990 to 2020 in the United States. Positive trends for both outcomes were also evident when analyses were stratified according to sex and/or race/ethnicity. Pearson’s correlation analyses consistently found positive associations between antidepressant prescription prevalence and suicide rates. 

Limitations: Trends and their associations were examined at the population level. The results cannot clarify the causal nature of the association observed. 

Conclusion: The results of our analysis consistently demonstrated positive trends for both antidepressant prescription prevalence and suicide rates over time as well as positive associations between them. These findings update those from previous studies and are at odds with the notion that, at a population level, more antidepressant prescriptions would lead to lower suicide rates. However, it needs to be acknowledged that ecological studies provide insufficient evidence to infer causality.”

You can read the full study from here.

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