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Keywords:

  • suicide;
  • prevention;
  • depression;
  • antidepressants

Isacsson G, Reutfors J, Papadopoulos FC, Ösby U, Ahlner J. Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression.

Objective:  Ecological studies have demonstrated a substantial decrease in suicide in parallel with an increasing use of antidepressants. To investigate on the individual level the hypothesis that antidepressant medication was a causal factor.

Method:  Data on the toxicological detection of antidepressants in 18 922 suicides in Sweden 1992–2003 were linked to registers of psychiatric hospitalization as well as registers with sociodemographic data.

Results:  The probability for the toxicological detection of an antidepressant was lowest in the non-suicide controls, higher in suicides, and even higher in suicides that had been psychiatric in-patients but excluding those who had been in-patients for the treatment of depression.

Conclusion:  The finding that in-patient care for depression did not increase the probability of the detection of antidepressants in suicides is difficult to explain other than by the assumption that a substantial number of depressed individuals were saved from suicide by postdischarge treatment with antidepressant medication.