Antidepressant usage is associated with a reduced risk of suicide and overall mortality among adults, although it may increase the likelihood of nonfatal suicide attempts, according to an analysis by researchers in Finland.

The study, which is published in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at 15,390 patients without psychoses who were hospitalised due to a suicide attempt between January 1997 and December 2003, with a mean follow-up of 3.4 years.

The results showed that use of an antidepressant was associated with a 39% increase in attempted suicide, but a 32% decline in completed suicide and death, compared to patients who were not taking antidepressants.

Additionally, the results showed that Eli Lilly’s Prozac (fluoxetine) was associated with the lowest risk of suicide, while Wyeth’s Effexor (venlafaxine) was associated with the highest risk, though this

was not particularly surprising as Effexor is used to treat the patients

who are most severely ill and who are likely to have the worst outcomes.

Lead author of the report, Prof Jarl Tiihonen of the University of Kuopio

in Finland, said that the issue of how antidepressants affect the risk of

suicide remains open, but concluded that “antidepressant treatment may

contribute to a substantial decrease in mortality among this patient


FDA staff ponder young adult suicide link

Meanwhile, in documents issued ahead of an advisory committee meeting on December 13, staff at the US Food and Drug Administration expressed

concern that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide in adults

under 25.

After reviewing data from 372 trials, the FDA group noted that the risk of

suicidal thinking or suicide attempts is 62% higher in adults under 25 who

are taking antidepressants, compared to those on placebo. However, the

agency members suggested that antidepressants may protect those over 25 from suicidal thinking.