Suicides by Violent Means in Individuals Taking SSRIs and Other Antidepressants: A Postmortem Study in Sweden, 1992-2004


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Abstract

A number of reports have linked consumption of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) with suicide by violent methods. We aimed to determine whether suicides with postmortem evidence of SSRI consumption are more likely to have used violent methods compared with suicides with no detectable antidepressants. Blood samples from all suicides in Sweden during 1992-2004 were examined. Suicides were classified into those who died by violence and nonviolent (self-poisoning) methods using information from police records and autopsy. In addition, we investigated proportions of violent suicide in individuals who died with detectable levels of tricyclic and other antidepressants.The sample consisted of 14,691 suicides. Of the 1958 suicides with detectable levels of SSRIs, 1247 were by violent means (63.7%) compared with 7835 of 11,045 suicides (70.9%) in antidepressant-free group (χ21 = 7.6; P < 0.01). When subdivided by gender and age-bands, we found specific groups with significantly lower proportions of violent suicides compared with the antidepressants-free group, including men aged 15-24 years.

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