STUDY: Suicide Up 8%, Anti-Depressant Use Down 16%

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) — The suicide rate for children and young adults rose 8% in 2004, marking the largest annual increase in more than 15 years, the government said Thursday. The rise comes after a cumulative decline of more than 28% in the suicide rate from 1990 to 2003, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report comes from an analysis of annual data from the CDC’s National Vital Statisticssuicide-brainart2.jpg System, which contains data from birth, death, marriage and divorce records in the U.S. Overall, suicide accounted for 4,599 deaths among people aged 10 to 24, the report said. However, there are about 142,000 emergency room visits to treat people in that age group for self-inflicted injuries.

The overall suicide rate rise was driven by jumps in the suicide rate for male and females ages 15 to 19 along with an increase in girls ages 10 to 14, the report said. Prior to 2003, suicide rates for the three groups “were generally decreasing” the report said. Specific rates are calculated per 100,000 people and among 10- to 14-year-old females, the rate increased from 0.54 per 100,000 in 2003 to 0.95 per 100,000 in 2004. For 15- to 19-year-old females the rate increased from 2.66 to 3.52 per 100,000 and among 15- to 19-year-old males, the rate increased from 11.61 to 12.65 per 100,000 in 2004.

The report didn’t speculate on the reasons behind the increase, but it coincided with a drop in antidepressant use among young people after the Food and Drug Administration said it would require antidepressant makers to place a “black box” label warning that the drugs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adolescents

One analysis by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. (MHS) showed antidepressant prescriptions for patients younger than 18 years old fell 10% in 2004, with a 16% drop the last three months of the year following the FDA’s October announcement that it would add the “black-box” warnings.

Earlier this year the FDA announced modifications to the box, warning of increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality, in young adults ages 18 to 24 during the first one to two months of treatment. But in a nod to concerns the original black box warning might have contributed to the drop in antidepressant prescriptions and an increase in the teen suicide rate, the agency decided to add language to the box stating “depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are associated with increases in the risk of suicide.” [via CNN]


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