Do Some Drugs Increase the Risk for Suicide?

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According to a recent article published in The New York Times, the debate over the potential suicidal side effects of drugs like Prozac, Paxil and anti-epileptics is still going on. Part of the problem is that, “the act itself is so rare – 1 in 10,000- that a series of drug trials cannot pickup enough cases to allow for adequate analysis” (Carey, 2008). There have been suggestions that the use of suicide markers may be beneficial in ferreting out which drugs may increase the risk of suicidality, as well as requiring drug manufacturers to track suicidal symptoms in their studies. Adding to the complexity of the issue is that suicide is a private affair – some will confide that they are having suicidal thoughts, others keep it to themselves; some will actually attempt suicide, others will not. Carey (2008) found another way to potentially tackle the problem:

In a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association last year, the psychiatrists Dr. Donald Klein of Columbia University and Dr. Charles O’Brien of the University of Pennsylvania argued that the best way to study the risk of rare side effects was to establish large, linked databases of patients, including medical records and prescription histories. Such a system could be created in the United States in a short time, they wrote, but “the possibility has received almost no public discussion or legislative attention.”

Carey, B. (2008, February 10). Making sense of the great suicide debate. New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/weekinreview/10carey.html?emc=eta1

To Read the full article in the New York Times click here

About Penny R Miller, MS, LPC, CBIS

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