Objective: Previous reports suggesting that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use is associated with increased suicidal risk have not assessed completed suicides. The authors analyzed reports from randomized controlled trials to compare suicide rates among depressed patients assigned to an SSRI, other antidepressants, or placebo.
Method: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) summary reports of the controlled clinical trials for nine modern FDA-approved antidepressants provided data for comparing rates of suicide.
Results: Of 48,277 depressed patients participating in the trials, 77 committed suicide. Based on patient exposure years, similar suicide rates were seen among those randomly assigned to an SSRI (0.59%, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.31%-0.87%), a standard comparison antidepressant (0.76%, 95% CI=0.49%-1.03%), or placebo (0.45%, 95% CI=0.01%-0.89%).
Conclusions: These findings fail to support either an overall difference in suicide risk between antidepressant- and placebo-treated depressed subjects in controlled trials or a difference between SSRIs and either other types of antidepressants or placebo.