Carnegie Mellon University

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences

A disturbing new study out of the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that teen suicides climbed 14 percent in the year following an order by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to put a so-called black  box warning on antidepressants, advising that they increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adolescents. This resulted in a 22 percent drop in prescriptions for antidepressants for teens and children, and researchers fear this is behind the spike in suicides:

A similar drop in prescriptions in the Netherlands led to a 49% increase in youth suicides over a two-year period, the team reported. They estimated that every 20% drop in antidepressant use among all ages in the U.S. would lead to a nearly 10% increase in suicides, an additional 3,040 deaths per year. 

Regular readers of this blog will recall that Carnegie Mellon Statistics Professor Joel Greenhouse has been studying the purported connection between "suicidality" and antidepressant use among teens. His previous results have suggested that the FDA may have overstated the risk of antidepressant use by teens, and Greenhouse has noted that none of the teens involved in the studies upon which the FDA's decision was based committed suicide--and the number of suicide attempts was too low to be statistically significant.

If you are a member of the media who wishes to speak to Greenhouse, contact me at jpotts@andrew.cmu.edu.

Jonathan Potts