Depression Home > SSRIs and Suicide

Do SSRIs Cause Suicides?

In clinical studies, it did appear that there was a slightly increased risk of suicidal behavior in children and teenagers who took antidepressants, including SSRIs. In one study, about 4 percent of children and teens taking an antidepressant had suicidal thoughts or behavior, compared to 2 percent in children and teens who were not taking an antidepressant. This study looked at all suicidal behavior, including suicides, attempted suicides, and thoughts about committing suicide. It is important to note that no one in the study actually committed suicide.
 
It is difficult to know for sure if antidepressants cause suicidal behavior. To make matters more confusing, depression itself can cause suicidal behavior. The bottom line: you should report any signs of suicidal behavior to your healthcare professional, whether you are taking an antidepressant or not.
 
Certain people seem to be at a higher risk for suicidal behavior while taking antidepressants. This includes people with bipolar disorder (or a family history of bipolar disorder) and people who have attempted suicide (or have a family history of suicide attempts).
 

SSRIs and Suicides: Suggestions

Your healthcare provider should monitor you (or your child) carefully when first starting an antidepressant. Be watchful for any signs of suicidal behavior. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you (or your child) have any of the following:
 
  • Thoughts about death or committing suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Depression or anxiety that is new or worse
  • Agitation, restlessness, or panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Irritability that is new or worse
  • Aggressive, angry, or violent behavior
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • An unusual increase in talking or activity
  • Other strange changes in mood or behavior.
     
Also, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of using SSRIs in children and teenagers, or other options for depression treatment.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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