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Teen Suicides Up Sharply for First Time in Years
Date:9/6/2007

ed to a possible increased risk of suicide among teens taking antidepressants, the FDA in 2004 mandated a black box warning on the labels of antidepressants, Shain noted. "There is a correlation between decreased antidepressant prescribing among teenagers and the increased rate of suicide, and other studies show this," he said.

"It is true that antidepressant prescribing in pediatric patients has gone down, and that coincides with this one-year uptick in adolescent suicide, and that is a concern for us," Dr. Thomas Laughren, director of the FDA's Division of Psychiatry Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said during the teleconference. "But we do have an obligation to alert prescribers and patients of risks we find with drugs -- it's a dilemma for us, but clearly, it's a concern."

Arias noted that there are many causes of suicide, and the reduction in antidepressant prescribing may be only one reason for the increased rate.

"Suicide is a multidimensional and complex problem," Arias said. "As much as we would like to be able to attribute suicide to any single source that we can fix quickly, unfortunately, we can't do that."

Shain, who wrote a paper on teen suicide that was published in the September issue of Pediatrics, used the same data as the CDC but found an 18 percent increase in the teen suicide rate.

The difference in the rate of increase was due to Shain's inclusion of suicides among people aged 0 to 24, Arias said.

In the CDC report, researchers collected data from the CDC's National Vital Statistics System. They looked specifically at the trends of suicide over 15 years, according to the report in the Sept. 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

The researchers also found the methods used to commit suicide had changed among girls over time. In 1990, guns were the most common method used by both girls and boys. But by 2004, hanging
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