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Sedatives and Risk of Suicide In the Elderly

Sleeping tablets have been associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the elderly.

Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Geriatrics have shown that, even after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric conditions, sedatives and hypnotics were both associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Anders Carlsten and Margda Waern from Gothenburg University carried out a case control study to determine whether specific types of psychoactive drugs were associated with suicide risk in later life.

According to Carlsten, “Sedative treatment was associated with an almost fourteen-fold increase of suicide risk in the crude analyses and remained an independent risk factor for suicide even after adjustment for the presence of mental disorders. Having a current prescription for a hypnotic was associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the adjusted model.”

The researchers speculate that the drugs may raise suicide risk by triggering aggressive or impulsive behavior, or by providing the means for people to take an overdose.

They also point out the possibility that these drugs may merely be markers for some other factor related to suicide risk, such as somatic illness, functional disability, alcohol use disorder, interpersonal problems, lack of social network or sleep disturbance.

Carlsten said, “Persons with these problems might be more likely to seek health care and perhaps more likely to receive prescriptions for psychotropic drugs. However, given the extremely high prescription rates for these drugs, a careful evaluation of the suicide risk should always precede prescribing a sedative or hypnotic to an elderly individual.”

Source: BioMed Central

Sedatives and Risk of Suicide In the Elderly

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). Sedatives and Risk of Suicide In the Elderly. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/06/05/sedatives-and-risk-of-suicide-in-the-elderly/6331.html

 

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