Do antidepressants precipitate youth suicide?: a nationwide pharmacoepidemiological study

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;15(4):232-40. doi: 10.1007/s00787-006-0527-6. Epub 2006 Feb 23.


The association between treatment with Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and suicide in children and adolescents on the individual and ecological level were examined in a nationwide Danish pharmacoepidemiological register-linkage study including all persons aged 10-17 years treated with antidepressants during the period 1995-1999 (n=2,569) and a randomly selected control population (n=50,000). A tripartite approach was used. In Part 1, changes in youth suicide and use of antidepressants were examined. In Part 2, we made an assessment of youth suicide characteristics. In Part 3, we analysed the relative risk (RR) of suicide according to antidepressant treatment corrected for psychiatric hospital contact to minimize the problem of confounding by indication. The use of SSRIs among children and adolescents increased substantially during the study period, but the suicide rate remained stable (Part 1). Among 42 suicides nationally aged 10-17 years at death, none was treated with SSRIs within 2 weeks prior to suicide (Part 2). There was an increased rate of suicide associated with SSRIs (RR=4.47), however, not quite significant (95% CI: 0.95-20.96), when adjusted for severity of illness (Part 3). Conclusively, we were not able to identify an association between treatment with SSRIs and completed suicide among children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Precipitating Factors
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors