Teen suicides go up; increase may be linked to fewer SSRI prescriptions

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 24, 2007

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The suicide rate for 10- to 24-year-olds increased by 8% from 2003 to 2004, the largest single-year increase in 15 years, according to a Sept. 7 report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In actual numbers, the increase was from 6.78 deaths per 100,000 in 2003 to 7.32 per 100,000 in 2004. The rate for 10- to 14-year-old girls registered the most dramatic increase: 0.54 deaths per 100,000 in 2003 to 0.95 per 100,000 in 2004.

"We don't yet know if this is a short-lived increase or if it's the beginning of a trend," said Ileana Arias, PhD, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Between 1990 and 2003, the overall suicide rate for 10- to 24-year-olds had declined by 28% -- or from 9.48 per 100,000 in 1990 to 6.78 per 100,000 in 2003.

In a separate study in the September American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers noted that the increase in suicides seemed to parallel a drop in prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to children and teens to treat depression. The decline in prescriptions occurred after black-box warnings of a heightened risk of suicide for this group were added to the drugs' labels.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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