CHICAGO – The number of teen suicides has fallen slightly, but the rate remains disturbingly high, possibly fueled by drug warnings that have scared many from using antidepressants.
The suicide rate was about 4.5 per 100,000 in 2005, the most recent data available. That follows an 18 percent spike the previous year that alarmed experts when first reported.
That’s because until then, suicides among 10- to 19-year-olds had been on a steady decline since 1996.
Dr. David Fassler, a psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont, said the report suggests a “very disturbing” upward trend that correlates with a decline in teen use of antidepressants.
That decline stems from the Food and Drug Administration’s 2004 black-box warning label because of reports that the drugs can increase risks for suicidal tendencies.
Fassler, who wasn’t involved in the new study, is among psychiatrists who believe the drugs’ benefits, including treating depression that can lead to suicide, outweigh their risks.
The new report shows the rate dropped by about 5 percent from 4.7 in 2004 – or from 1,983 suicides in 2004 to 1,883 in 2005.