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Antidepressant use and suicide prevention: a prescription database study in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Castelpietra G, Morsanutto A, Pascolo-Fabrici E, Isacsson G. Antidepressant use and suicide prevention: a prescription database study in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. Objective: 

To investigate the possible impact of the increased use of antidepressants on suicide rates in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG). Method: 

Individual-based data on antidepressants in FVG from 1997 to 2006 were obtained from the regional prescription database, and linked to data on suicide for the same period obtained from the regional health information system. Age and sex were considered. Results: 

The number of users of antidepressants increased almost fivefold during the study period. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors accounted for 71% of the individual users in 2006. The number of defined daily doses (DDD) per patient increased almost sevenfold. In parallel, the suicide rate decreased by one-third in men as well as in women, and in subjects under and over the age of 60 years. Conclusion: 

Suicide rates in FVG have declined in agreement with the hypothesis that the use of antidepressants may prevent suicide.

Keywords: antidepressants; depression; pharmacoepidemiology; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; suicide prevention

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Clinical, Morphological and Technological Sciences, Division of Psychiatry, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy 2: Pharmaceutical Assistance Service, Direzione Centrale Salute e Protezione Sociale, Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trieste, Italy 3: Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute, Psychiatry Southwest, Karolinska University Hospital-Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2008-11-01

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