Home » News » SSRIs Drop Suicide Risk In Adults

SSRIs Drop Suicide Risk In Adults

A new international research study suggests selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may reduce the risk of suicide in depressed adults.

This class of medications comprise commonly prescribed medications for depression and include brand names Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Luvox (fluvoxamine).

The study, a meta-analysis of 8 large-scale observational studies, was undertaken to explore whether SSRIs reduce or increase the risk of suicide in depressed people.

Previous studies, including a 2007 study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), found the risk of suicide in adults was neutral, elevated in those under 25 and reduced in people older than 65. A subsequent black box warning was added to all antidepressants regarding increased risk of suicidal symptoms in people under 25 years of age.

“While the FDA analysis found a neutral effect of SSRIs (or a promoting effect in adults aged 18-25), we found a strong protective effect associated with SSRI treatment in adults,” according to Dr. Corrado Barbui and colleagues.

SSRIs in adults significantly reduced the risk of completed or attempted suicide.

They conclude “data from observational studies should reassure doctors that prescribing serotonin reuptake inhibitors in patients with major depression is safe,” although children and adolescents should be closely monitored due to the possibility of suicidal thoughts and suicide.

In a related commentary, Dr. John Mann of Columbia University and Dr. Robert Gibbons of the University of Illinois write “alarmingly, concerns about the risk of suicide in youth have led not only to fewer SSRI prescriptions without substitution of alternative medications or psychotherapies, but also to a decrease in predicted rates of diagnosis of mood disorders.”

They suggest doctors may be avoiding making diagnoses and call for randomized controlled trials to determine safety and efficacy of treatments for young adults.

The study was performed by researchers from the World Health Organization and the University of Verona, Italy and is published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

SSRIs Drop Suicide Risk In Adults

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). SSRIs Drop Suicide Risk In Adults. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on All rights reserved.