Report: Suicides Tied to Psych Drugs

July 24, 2010

The majority of persons who committed suicide in Sweden in 2007 had received extensive treatment with psychiatric drugs within a year of committing suicide.  In this independent report, reporter Janne Larsson analyzes the 2007 suicide data documented by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) and from the regional departments of the National Board of Forensic Medicine.  The data, not readily available to the public, was obtained under Freedom of Information requests.

In 2007, there were 1,126 confirmed suicides in Sweden (325 women and 801 men).  Of those, autopsy reports were completed for 1,109 (98%) of those suicides.  The majority of persons who committed suicide in Sweden in 2007 had received extensive treatment with psychiatric drugs within a year of committing suicide. 

None of these suicide cases were reported to the registry for adverse drug events. 

The report has three main parts: 

  • It gives unique data about all suicides committed in 2007 and the psychiatric drugs that the persons received within a year of the suicide.
  • It compares these data with autopsy reports about psychiatric drugs found in the blood (of 98%) of all the persons who committed suicide in 2007.
  • For persons who received healthcare service and committed suicide in 2007 — a subgroup of 393 persons (a third of all suicides) — the report provides extensive information about the psychiatric drug treatment provided to them during the last year of their lives.

NOTE: The extensive information for this subgroup is facilitated by Swedish laws that require regional healthcare offices to report suicides of persons treated at their facility to the National Board of Health and Welfare, accompanied by all of the patient’s medical records within four weeks after the last visit. 

THE FINDINGS

In 2007, there were 1,126 definite suicides in Sweden (325 women and 801 men).

  • Of the 1,126 suicides, 724 (64%) had filled a prescription for psychiatric drugs within a year of the suicide;
  • Of the 325 women 250 (77%) had filled a prescription for psychiatric drugs; for the 801 men the figure was 474 (59%);
  • Of the 325 women 196 (60%) had filled a prescription for antidepressants; for the 801 men the figure was 306 (38%);
  • In 575 persons (52% of 1,109 for whom there were autopsy reports) traces of psychiatric drugs were found;
  • 86% of the 393 men and women in the subgroup — patients receiving healthcare — received extensive psychiatric drug treatment in the year prior to committing suicide.  On average, 338 persons (of 393)  were prescribed 4 different drugs in the year before the suicide, and;
  • In 304 of these cases (77%) the persons were treated with antidepressants and/or neuroleptics (antipsychotic drugs).

The conclusion is that a large percentage of persons who committed suicide in Sweden in 2007 had received extensive treatment with psychiatric drugs within a year of committing suicide. 

The findings–in particular for the 393 patients for whom detailed psychiatric drug treatment records were analyzed–contradict the paradigm of treatment for depression which relies on psychotropic drugs.  The evidence confirms that the drugs being prescribed pose the greater risk of suicide. 

The report provides no evidence that Swedes react differently to psychotropic drugs than do Americans, Canadians, the British, or Australians.

Although the evidence shows that the majority of people who committed suicide filled prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, none of those documented 1,126 suicides were reported to the agency that maintains adverse drug reaction data.  Autopsy reports showed that 52% had traces of psychotropic drugs in their blood, which suggests not only that the adverse drug reaction database is unreliable, but that the truth about these drugs is being deliberately concealed from the public. 

For more information, read the complete report: Psychiatric drugs & suicide in Sweden 2007 : A report based on data from the National Board of Health and Welfare by Janne Larsson.  News reports of SSRI-related suicides and homicides are posted at SSRI Stories.

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