Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants and the risk of suicide: a controlled forensic database study of 14,857 suicides

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2005 Apr;111(4):286-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2004.00504.x.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants may have a suicide emergent effect, particularly in children and adolescents.

Method: Detections of different antidepressants in the forensic toxicological screening of 14 857 suicides were compared with those in 26,422 cases of deaths by accident or natural causes in Sweden 1992-2000.

Results: There were 3411 detections of antidepressants in the suicides and 1538 in the controls. SSRIs had lower odds ratios than the other antidepressants. In the 52 suicides under 15 years, no SSRIs were detected. In 15-19-year age group, SSRIs had lower relative risk in suicides compared with non-SSRIs.

Conclusion: The hypothesis that treatment of depressed individuals with SSRIs leads to an increased risk of suicide was not supported by this analysis of the total suicidal outcome of the nationwide use of SSRIs in Sweden over a period of 9 years, either in adults or in children or adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / blood
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / toxicity*
  • Autopsy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / mortality
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / blood
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / toxicity*
  • Suicide / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors