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Antidepressants Linked to Lower Suicide Rates

Most older adults committing suicide were not receiving treatment

TUESDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Most older adults who commit suicide were not receiving treatment at the time of death, and antidepressant treatment can account for about 10 percent of the reduction in suicide rates in the late 1990s, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Annette Erlangsen, Ph.D., from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and colleagues examined changes in suicide rates and antidepressant use in 2,100,808 adults (50 years and older) living in Denmark from 1996-2000.

The researchers found that only one in five adults who died by suicide were receiving antidepressant treatment at the time of death. The male suicide rate fell by 9.7 per 100,000 during this period, with antidepressants accounting for 0.94 suicides of the reduction. The female suicide rate fell by 3.3 per 100,000, with antidepressants accounting for 0.40 suicides of the reduction.

"Just a small proportion of older adults dying by suicide were found to be in treatment with antidepressants at the time of death," Erlangsen and colleagues conclude. "Individuals in active treatment with antidepressants seem to account for 10 percent of the decline in the suicide rate."

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