Thursday, September 13, 2007

SSRIs, CDC, and Suicide

Though some people have been asserting with confidence that a decline in SSRI prescriptions has led to an increase in the suicide rate, Furious Seasons has the story that, um, suicide rates were slightly down in 2005 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. Link to the CDC document here and link to an excellent post at Furious Seasons here.

Many researchers, bloggers, and others have been slamming the FDA for daring to put a black box warning on SSRI's that links the drugs to potential increased suicidal ideation. If fewer people take SSRI's, more people die. Or so the argument goes.

There is indeed some correlational data linking decreased SSRI prescription with increased suicide rates, as well as some correlational data finding no such relationship. Mind you, there is a reason that we all learn in introductory research methods that correlation does not prove that change in one variable causes change in another variable. There are much stronger sources of evidence, which will be discussed at a later date. For now, it is interesting that the suicide rate appears to have fallen slightly in 2005 despite estimates that SSRI prescriptions fell significantly.

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