Do SSRIs cause suicide in children? The evidence is underwhelming

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15 Scopus citations


After regulatory agencies in the United Kingdom and United States recommended severe restrictions on antidepressant use in children, many lessons were learned, although one was not that these drugs cause suicide. We learned that pharmaceutical companies selectively released data that reflected positively on their products and that combining suppressed and published data suggested that most of these medications had questionable efficacy. We also learned that the studies lacked uniformity both in which age groups constituted children and which behavior was considered suicidal. Several recent, large nonindustry studies indicated that rates of suicide and suicidal behavior were actually reduced in children who used antidepressants, despite piteous anecdotal tales in the popular press purporting that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) caused children to kill themselves. Patients in pharmaceutical trials probably do not represent typical patients in routine clinical practice. Emerging implications are that suicidal behavior-if it does occur-is most likely soon after starting antidepressant use and that prescribers must be both vigilant in educating patients and families about warning signs and available to manage worrisome behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-241
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Antidepressants
  • Children and adolescents
  • Pharmaceutical trials
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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