Suicides are seldom prescribed antidepressants: findings from a prospective prescription database in Jämtland county, Sweden, 1985-95

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2001 Apr;103(4):301-6. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0447.2001.00276.x.


Objective: This study presents data relating to prospectively monitored treatment and post-mortem toxicology of individuals who committed suicide.

Method: A case-control study of prospectively monitored pharmacological treatment in suicides and controls. Psychiatric records and post-mortem toxicology were also studied.

Results: Fifty-nine subjects who committed suicide purchased twice the number of prescriptions as the 118 controls. Sixteen cases received psychiatric in-patient care compared to four of the controls. In the last 3 months prior to suicide, 38 cases (64%) were dispensed drugs: anxiolytics-hypnotics in 17 cases (29%), antipsychotics in six cases (10%) and antidepressants in seven cases (12%). More psychiatrists than GPs prescribed antidepressants. About one-third of psychotropic drugs were retrieved in post-mortem toxicology.

Conclusion: There is a frequent use of psychotropics and psychiatric care among suicides; however, few used antidepressants and complied. Many suicides are still misdiagnosed and are not adequately treated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs