Suicide is the third-largest killer of children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24, and is a growing problem amongst middle aged and elderly adults.
Knowing this, scientists and researchers the world over have devoted time and energy to improving treatment approaches, including studies focused on the efficacy of antidepressant medications.
The news is encouraging.
Common antidepressants reduce the risk of suicide in adults, according to work recently completed and published by Italian scientist Corrado Barbui of the University of Verona.
Barbui and his team reviewed data collected in eight previous studies that included over 200,000 patients. They focused on selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants. The team found that the drugs cut suicide risk by more than 40 percent among adults and over 50 percent for elderly people.
Despite the obvious value to adults, researchers still suggest caution when using antidepressants to treat children and adolescents. With this in mind, closer monitoring, such as regular meetings with a therapist or counselor, should be part of the treatment protocol for those under 18.
“Data from observational studies should reassure doctors that prescribing (the drugs) to patients with major depression is safe,” wrote the Italian team.
The news is good indeed. Depression kills. Treatment works.