A 22% drop in prescriptions for antidepressants for teens and children following government warnings about hazards of the drugs led to a sharp increase in suicides the following year, according to researchers. The change in labeling in 2003 warned that use of the drugs could increase suicidal thoughts and behavior among youths, but the labeling seems to have backfired, according to a report in the September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. In the year after the change in labeling, the suicide rate rose 14% among those younger than 19, the largest increase since the government started collecting suicide statistics in 1979, said biostatistician Robert D. Gibbons of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Los Angeles Times said a similar drop in prescriptions in the Netherlands led to a 49% increase in youth suicides over a two-year period. They estimated that every 20% drop in antidepressant use among all ages in the U.S. would lead to a nearly 10% increase in suicides, an additional 3,040 deaths per year.