FDA Warnings May Cause More Suicides

A study published Wednesday argues that government warnings about the risks for young people taking antidepressants may have resulted in more suicides. The study claims that an unintended consequence of the warnings was that depressed young people were discouraged from seeking treatment, which led to an increase in suicide attempts. In 2003 and 2004, the Food and Drug Administration had warned the public that data showed more suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents prescribed SSRIs, and told manufacturers to put a “black-box” warning on labels describing the risk. Researchers in the study said that the ensuing publicity focused on the small number of patients who had increased suicidal thoughts, and overshadowed those who benefited. As a result, the study says, prescriptions dropped precipitously, and the number of suicide attempts grew by more than 20 percent in adolescents and one-third in young adults.