The population impact on incidence of suicide and non-fatal self harm of regulatory action against the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in under 18s in the United Kingdom: ecological study

BW Wheeler, DJ Gunnell, C Metcalfe, P Stephens, RM Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective To investigate the population impact on the incidence of suicide and non-fatal self harm of regulatory action in 2003 to restrict the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in under 18s. Design Ecological time series study. Setting United Kingdom. Populations Young people in the UK aged 12-19 years (prescribing trends), in England and Wales aged 12-17 years (mortality), and in England aged 12-17 years (hospital admissions). Main outcome measures Deaths from suicide and hospital admissions for self harm. Results Antidepressant prescribing doubled between 1999 and 2003 but fell to the 1999 level between 2004 and 2005. These large changes in prescribing did not seem to be associated with temporal trends in suicide or self harm. In the years 1993 to 2005 the annual percentage reduction for suicide among 12-17 year olds was -3.9% (95% confidence interval -6.2% to -1.5%) in males and -3.0% (-6.6% to 0.6%) in females, with no indication of a substantial change in this rate of decrease during that period. Similarly, hospital admission rates for self harm in the years 1999 to 2005 indicated an annual percentage increase for males of 1.1% (-0.5% to 2.7%) and for females of 5.7% (3.6% to 7.8%), again with no statistical evidence of a change in rate after the regulatory action. Conclusions The noticeable reduction in prescribing of antidepressants since regulatory action in 2003 to restrict the use of SSRIs in under 18s does not seem to have been associated with changes in suicidal behaviour in young people. Specifically, these data for England do not indicate that reductions in antidepressant use have led to an increase in suicidal behaviour.
Translated title of the contributionThe population impact on incidence of suicide and non-fatal self harm of regulatory action against the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in under 18s in the United Kingdom: ecological study
Original languageEnglish
Article number542
Number of pages4
JournalBMJ
Volume336
Issue number7643
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher: BMJ Group

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