A new study by researchers at the University of South Florida and University of Illinois suggests FDA mandated warnings about suicide in teens treated with antidepressants could have the unintended consequence of placing more youth at risk.
When a possible connection was suggested between teens who take antidepressant medications and a higher suicide rate, Hendricks Brown, professor and director of the Prevention Science and Methodology Group, USF College of Public Health, decided to investigate along with his colleague Robert Gibbons from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Their study appears in the September 2007 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, titled Early Evidence on the Effects of Regulated Suicidality Warnings on SSRI Prescriptions and Suicide in Children and Adolescents. The researchers report findings contrary to earlier studies suggesting a link between antidepressants and suicidal thinking and behavior in youth.
The overall effect of these newer antidepressants is very likely that they reduce suicide risk considerably, Brown said. Overall, the new antidepressants provide a large protective benefit. If there is any group of people who are adversely affected by taking these antidepressants, it has to be a very small group.
The findings are compelling, especially in view of the FDAs requirement in May for major black-box warnings to be placed on antidepressants for youth and young adults that advise of a potential suicide risk. The warnings, in turn, have led to a marked reduction in antidepressant use in adolescents and adults.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents in this country, following only unintentional injuries and homicide. In real numbers, about 30,000 young people take their own lives in America each year.
These overwhelming figures, in addition to his own experiences with families who had lost loved ones to suicide, motivated Brown to devote enormous
|Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier|
University of South Florida Health