NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 4, 2008

A new study may bolster the argument that a drop in the use of antidepressants has lead to an increase in teen suicides, says the Wall Street Journal. 

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • From 1990-2003, the suicide rate for people 10 to 24 years old fell more than 28 percent.
  • In 2003, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued advisories on antidepressants and required "black box" warnings -- which link the drug to suicidal thoughts and behavior in young people - on labels.
  • From 2003-2004, the suicide rate for young people rose eight percent.
  • From 2003-2005, there were 600 more suicides than expected.

This trend suggests that the increase was not a single-year anomaly, but rather reflects an emerging public medical crisis.  Researchers are concerned that warnings about antidepressants are scaring people away from medicines that could help them, says the Journal.

However, it is unclear whether a drop in antidepressant use is what caused the rise in the suicide rate since the rate pertains to the entire population and does not indicate who took antidepressants and who did not.  Yet, in 2007, responding in part to concerns, the FDA called for an update to the boxed warnings, adding that depression and certain other serious psychiatric disorders are themselves the most important causes of suicide, says the Journal.

Furthermore, there are other factors possibly contributing to the rise in teen suicide that should be considered, such as alcohol use, access to firearms, the influence of Internet social networks and suicides among U.S. troops, some of whom are older adolescents, says the Journal.

Source: Sarah Rubenstein, "Elevated Rate Of Teen Suicide Stirs Concern," Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Health Issues