Skip to comments.Study confirms suicide rates dropping
Posted on 09/29/2006 12:26:18 AM PDT by neverdem
Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Suicide rates among the youngest and oldest Americans have steadily declined since the late 1980s, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday in a finding that contradicts popular conceptions that rates were rising.
The study suggests that new antidepressant drugs may not raise the risk of suicide after all, the researchers said, but they acknowledge they are mystified by what might be causing the decline, because it is not affecting people aged 25 to 64.
"For 40 years adolescent suicide rates rose," said Dr. Robert McKeown, a professor at the University of South Carolina's school of public health.
"Then, the rates began to decline in the late 1980s for adults 65 and older and in the early 1990s for adolescents and young adults," he added. "But many people weren't aware -- they kept saying suicides were increasing when it was no longer true."
McKeown's team looked at suicide statistics gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau.
"The adolescent and young adult age group (aged 15 to 24 years) showed a continuously increasing trend in rates until 1994, at which point rates began declining steadily to levels not seen since the early 1970s," they wrote in their report, published in American Journal of Public Health.
Rates Americans from 45 years old to 64 have risen each year from 1999 through 2002, and have remained stable since 1999 for 25-to 44-year-olds.
The reason for any of this was not immediately clear, they said.
"One large-scale factor that could be influencing suicide rates is the economy," they wrote.
"Overall, the U.S. economy thrived during the 1990s, with correspondingly lower unemployment rates."
It is too soon to tell if a subsequent "economic downturn" was affecting suicide rates, they said.
BACKING OTHER RESEARCH
The study is the second major piece of research to show a decline in suicides, and both teams of researchers say the data suggest new antidepressants may not be causing more suicides.
"Despite concerns about an increased risk of suicidal behavior, there is not enough evidence that these drugs raise the risk of completed suicide," McKeown said in an interview.
Millions of Americans use antidepressants, which include Pfizer Inc.'s Zoloft, GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Paxil and Eli Lilly and Co.'s Prozac.
Prozac, or fluoxetine, was the first SSRI, which stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced "black box warnings" on the most popular SSRIs in 2004 after studies in the United States and Britain suggested the drugs may raise the risk of suicide in children and adults.
In June, researchers reported in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine SSRIs had saved more than 30,000 lives.
"But you can't blithely assume that drugs like Prozac have lowered the suicide rate. If that was the reason, why haven't the suicide rates of those in the 25-to-64 age brackets declined, too?" McKeown asked.
However, he is worried that misplaced concern about suicides may in fact reduce rates of SSRI use.
"We are concerned that the black box warnings may be having the unintended effect of scaring people away from treatments," he said.
McKeown is now seeking funding to study larger groups of people to see if there is a link between SSRI prescriptions and suicide attempts -- and to see if the black-box warnings have affected prescribing patterns.
My personal theory is that anti-depressant drugs may cause some people to commit suicide merely because they give the depressed person enough energy to carry out the suicide he was planning already. The worst thing about current anti-depressants is that they take weeks to work, and their effect is gradual. When I started Prozac, it actually took months to reach an effective dose, because my GP started me at the minimum dose and worked up. Supposedly, there are newer drugs coming that work quickly.
I had an "grand mal" epileptic seizure and I'm sore as heck. :(
Prayers are welcome..
p.s. I have had epilepsy since I was about 17yrs old I'm 32 now...
Prayers for your recover and control of your illness.
Aren't there some pretty effective medications these days to keep epilepsy under control?
yea i take 2 different medications, Zonegran and Dilantin.. this is the first one that i've had in i think over 2 years(medicine works) not sure whats wrong, i'm going to make an appointment.
I don't think so.... AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(ok, just joking)
Good luck. Prayers for your health.
I'll be ok in a couple days. :)
All the best to you. Here's some interesting information, including the statistic that 1% of the population experiences some form of epilepsy.
Sounds like you really should see your doctor ASAP, I am sure if you insist they will give you an appointment in a day or two. You don't want to wait and chance another attacks.
oh wow, i thought it was more like 3%
However, I suspect this report will be thrown out the window along with all the Dems hurling themselves off roofs and cliffs the day after the November election.
That being said, depression is a truly serious problem and it's nice to see it taken seriously. I've seen those who have been impacted by serious depression. It's kind of unreal how it changes someone when it hits.
i dont have a job, because of this condition, mixed with the medication chronic migraine headaches etc, im a machinist so i obviously cant do that kind of work anymore... now i cant drive for 1 year.
Keep your chin up, and use your down time to re-educate.
Being a machinist is a dangerous job no matter who you are, and you've been given the opportunity to move in new directions.
I cant drive for a year now, so.. LOL
Except for suicides amoung Dallas Cowboys players.
Stable seems a poor choice of terms when describing suicidal people. Perhaps we should refer to them as 'unstable'. I hope that doesn't sound inttolerant or exclusive. Maybe 'living impaired' would be more politically correct.
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