Antidepressants and Suicide
In reviewing various studies on suicide and antidepressants, it appears that the medications may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in certain age groups. They do not appear to increase these risks in adults over age 24. As a result, the FDA has given antidepressants "black box" warnings -- the most serious type of warning found on a prescription drug's labeling.
Following a thorough and comprehensive review of all the available published and unpublished controlled clinical trials of antidepressants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior (known as "suicidality") in children, adolescents, and young adults treated with antidepressant medications.
The FDA reviewed 372 studies that included more than 99,800 people. In their review, the FDA compared suicidal symptoms in people taking antidepressants with those taking a placebo (a sugar pill with no active ingredients). Based on this review, it appears that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidality in children, adolescents, and young adults (age 18 to 24 years old). However, antidepressants do not appear to increase the risk in adults over age 24, and they actually seem to lower the risk in older adults (age 65 and older).
It is important to note that the term "suicidality" is not the same as "suicide." There were no actual suicides in any of the child or adolescent antidepressant studies reviewed by the FDA. There were a small number of suicides in the adult studies. However, these suicides occurred both in people taking antidepressants and in people taking a placebo.