February 6, 2007
A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an 18% increase in suicides from 2003 to 2004, the most recent data taken on the issue.
Many mental health experts are already pointing to a drop in the use of anti-depressant drugs as the probable cause. However, child psychiatrist, Dr. Roger Burket, says the correlation isn't that black and white.
"What we do know is prior to 2003, it looks like the suicide rate had steadily declined in children and adolescents," Dr. Burket of Uva's Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences said.
That's when, in 2003, the Food and Drug Administration required all anti depressants to have a black box warning on the label, cautioning that the drugs could cause suicidal behaviors in children.
"I think child psychiatrists at that point were actually surprised because prior to that we had thought these medications actually would be likely to decrease the risk of suicide and we prescribed them often for that reason," Dr. Burket continued.
In fact, Dr Burket said five years ago, a patient complaining of suicidal tendencies would get a boost in their dosage, but now the medication would stop.
And with fewer young adults now on anti depressants and an increase in suicides, the validity of those warnings comes into questions.
In areas where there's the greatest numbers of prescriptions of anti-depressants, the suicide rate is actually lower," Dr. Burket said.
The data released by the CDC is not broken down into certain races, genders, economic status and so a more thorough report will have to be conducted to see if there's something in particular about the spike.